"Peace is a messianic gift and human at the same time work... It is peace with God through a life lived according to his will. It is interior peace with oneself, and exterior peace with our neighbours and all creation. "
the words of Benedict XVI 's Message for the 46th World Day of Peace and the
focus of the homily delivered today at the Mass celebrated in St. Peter's on
the Feast of Mary, Mother of God.
presence of many cardinals and bishops and the diplomatic corps accredited to
the Holy See, the Pope reflected on the title of the Message for the World Day
of Peace this year, "Blessed
are the peacemakers."
With it, the pope said that "man is made
for the peace that is a gift from God."
He explains: " Although the
world is sadly marked by "hotbeds of tension and conflict caused by growing
instances of inequality between rich and poor, by the prevalence of a selfish
and individualistic mindset which also finds expression in an unregulated
financial capitalism," as well as by various forms of terrorism and crime, I am
convinced that "the many different efforts at peacemaking which abound in our
world testify to mankind's innate vocation to peace. In every person the desire for peace is an
essential aspiration which coincides in a certain way with the desire for a
full, happy and successful human life."
To understand "the
foundation, the source, the root of this peace ... despite the problems,
darkness, anguish," we must "contemplate the inner peace of Mary, the
Mother of Jesus", as described in the Today's Gospel (Luke 2, 16-21). "
During the days in which "she gave birth to her first-born son" - continues the
pope - many unexpected things occurred:
not only the birth of the Son but, even before, the tiring journey from
Nazareth to Bethlehem, not finding room at the inn, the search for a chance
place to stay for the night; then the song of the angels and the unexpected
visit of the shepherds. In all this,
however, Mary remains even tempered, she does not get agitated, she is not
overcome by events greater than herself; in silence she considers what happens,
keeping it in her mind and heart, and pondering it calmly and serenely. This is the interior peace which we ought to
have amid the sometimes tumultuous and confusing events of history, events
whose meaning we often do not grasp and which disconcert us.
The Gospel passage finishes with a mention of the circumcision of Jesus. According to the Law of Moses, eight days
after birth, baby boys were to be circumcised and then given their name. Through his messenger, God himself had said
to Mary - as well as to Joseph - that the Name to be given to the child was
"Jesus" (cf. Mt 1:21; Lk 1:31); and so it came to be. The Name which God had already chosen, even
before the child had been conceived, is now officially conferred upon him at
the moment of circumcision. This also
changes Mary's identity once and for all: she becomes "the mother of Jesus",
that is the mother of the Saviour, of Christ, of the Lord. Jesus is not a man like any other, but the
Word of God, one of the Divine Persons, the Son of God: therefore the Church
has given Mary the title Theotokos or Mother of God".
Referring to the first
reading of the Mass (Book of Numbers, from 6.22 to 27), the Pope reaffirms that
"peace is a gift from God and is linked to the splendour of the face of
God, according to the text from the Book of Numbers, which hands down the
blessing used by the priests of the People of Israel in their liturgical
assemblies. This blessing repeats three
times the Holy Name of God, a Name not to be spoken, and each time it is linked
to two words indicating an action in favour of man: "The Lord bless you and
keep you: the Lord make his face to shine upon you: the Lord lift up his
countenance upon you, and give you peace" (6:24-26). So peace is the summit of these six actions
of God in our favour, in which he turns towards us the splendour of his face. For
sacred Scripture, contemplating the face of God is the greatest happiness: "You
gladden him with the joy of your face" (Ps 21:7). From the contemplation of the face of God are
born joy, security and peace".
"To contemplate the
face of the Lord - he continues - means knowing him directly, in so far as is
possible in this life, through Jesus Christ in whom he is revealed. To rejoice in the splendour of God's face
means penetrating the mystery of his Name made known to us in Jesus,
understanding something of his interior life and of his will, so that we can
live according to his plan of love for humanity. "
"Here, dear brothers and sisters, is the foundation of our peace: the
certainty of contemplating in Jesus Christ the splendour of the face of God the
Father, of being sons in the Son, and thus of having, on life's journey, the
same security that a child feels in the arms of a loving and all-powerful
Father. The splendour of the face of
God, shining upon us and granting us peace, is the manifestation of his
fatherhood: the Lord turns his face to us, he reveals himself as our Father and
grants us peace. Here is the principle
of that profound peace - "peace with God" - which is firmly linked to faith and
grace, as Saint Paul tells the Christians of Rome (cf. Rom 5:2). Nothing can take this peace from believers,
not even the difficulties and sufferings of life. Indeed, sufferings, trials and darkness do
not undermine but build up our hope, a hope which does not deceive because
"God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit which has
been given to us" (5:5)".
"May the Virgin
Mary - he concluded - whom today we venerate with the title of Mother of God,
help us to contemplate the face of Jesus, the Prince of Peace. May she sustain us and accompany us in this
New Year: and may she obtain for us and for the whole world the gift of