Sunday, August 19, 2007
Angelus: Peace not mere absence of conflict
Pope Benedict XVI waves to the faithful during the Angelus prayer from his summer residence in Castel Gandolfo, south of Rome, August 19, 2007. REUTERS/Tony Gentile (ITALY)
~translated by Papa Ratzinger Forum
Dear brothers and sisters!
There is a statement by Jesus in the Gospel today that always catches our attention and demands to be well understood.
On his way to Jerusalem, where death on the Cross awaited him,. Jesus confides to his disciples: "Do you think that I have come to establish peace on the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division."
Then he adds: "From now on a household of five will be divided, three against two and two against three; a father will be divided against his son and a son against his father, a mother against her daughter and a daughter against her mother, a mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law" (Lc 12,51-53).
Whoever knows the Gospel of Christ in the least, knows that this is a message of peace par excellence. Jesus himself, as St. Paul writes, "is our peace" (Eph 2,14), who died and resurrected for breaking down the walls of enmity and inaugurate the Kingdom of God, who is love, joy and peace.
How then do we explain the words of the Gospel today? What is the Lord referring to when he says he came to bring, according to St. Luke's version, 'division', or according to St. Matthew, 'the sword' (Mt 10,34)?
The statement by Jesus means that the peace He came to bring is not synonymous to the simple absence of conflicts. On the contrary, the peace of Jesus is the fruit of a constant battle with evil. The challenge that Jesus is determined to sustain is not against men or human powers, but against the enemy of God and men, Satan.
Whoever wants to resist this enemy, remaining faithful to God and to goodness, must necessarily face incomprehension and sometimes, true and actual persecutions. That is why, those who intend to follow Jesus and to commit themselves without compromises to the truth should know that they will encounter opposition and will become, despite themselves, a sign of contradiction among men, even within their own families.
Love for our parents is in fact a divine commandment, but in order to be lived authentically, it can never be placed ahead of love of God and of Christ.
In this way, in the footsteps of the Lord Jesus, Christians become 'instruments of his peace', according to the famous phrase of St. Francis of Assisi. Not an inconsistent and only apparent peace, but a real peace, pursued with courage and tenacity in the daily task of triumphing over evil with good (cfr Rm 12,21) and personally paying the price that this demands.
The Virgin Mary, Queen of Peace, shared in martyrdom of the spirit her Son's battle against Evil, and continues to share that to the end of time. Let us invoke her maternal intercession so she may help us to to always be witnesses for Christ's peace, never stopping to compromises with evil.
After the Angelus, he made this special announcement:
In these days, our thoughts and prayers have constantly turned to the people of Peru, who have been struck by a c=devastating earthquake. I invoke the peace of the Lord for those who died, quick healing for those who are injured, and to those who now find themselves in miserable conditions, I wish to assure you: the Church is with you, with all its spiritual and material solidarity.
My Secretary of State, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone who had been planning a trip to Peru before this, will leave in the new few days to convey my personal sentiments as well as the concrete assistance of the Holy See.
This morning, the annual meeting for friendship among peoples opened in Rimini, with the theme this year, "Truth is the destiny for which e were created." In addressing my cordial greeting to the organizers, I assure them of my prayers so that, through the multiple initiatives on the program, the Meeting may be an occasion that will be profitable for reflection and encounter, in order to realize man's most profound calling: to be searchers for the truth and therefore, searchers for God (cfr Enc. Fides et ratio, Proemio).