Build peace each day of 2017, Pope urges
Publication Date: 2017-01-06
At New Year’s Day Mass, the Holy Father asks Catholics to ‘build peace on earth’ every day of the next year
Pope Francis has urged Catholics to build peace on earth each day of 2017. “That is how one builds peace, saying ‘no’ to hatred and violence—with action—and ‘yes’ to fraternity and reconciliation,” he said on January 1, which the Church marks as the feast of Mary, Mother of God and as World Peace Day.
Speaking to the some 50,000 pilgrims gathered in St Peter’s Square for the first noon Angelus of 2017, the Pope referred to his Peace Day message in which he asked people to adopt the ‘style’ of non-violence for building a politics for peace.
“I ask the Lord to support all people of good will who courageously roll up their sleeves in order to confront the scourge of terrorism and this bloodstain that is enveloping the world with the shadow of fear and confusion,” he said.
Earlier in the day, the Pope spoke of how maternal tenderness, hope and self-sacrifice were the ‘strongest antidote’ to the selfishness, indifference and ‘lack of openness’ in the world today.
Importance of mothers
Celebrating Mass in St Peter’s Basilica, which was decorated with bright red anthuriums, evergreen boughs, white flowers and pine cones brushed with gold paint, the Pope said that a community without mothers would be cold and heartless with ‘room only for calculation and speculation.’ The Pope said he learned so much about unconditional love, hope and belonging from seeing mothers who never stop embracing, supporting and fighting for what is best for their children incarcerated in prisons, ill in hospitals, enslaved by drugs or suffering from war.
“Where there is a mother, there is unity, there is belonging, belonging as children,” he said. Just like all mothers of the world, Mary, Mother of God, ‘protects us from the corrosive disease of being ‘spiritual orphans,’ a disease which makes the soul feel ‘motherless and lacking the tenderness of God,’ and results in our ‘sense of belonging to a family, a people, a land, to our God,’ growing dim.
The Pope also presided over an evening prayer service with Eucharistic adoration and the singing of a special hymn of thanksgiving to God in St Peter’s Basilica. As the year ends, he said in his homily, he asked people to reflect on how God has been present in their lives and to thank the Lord for all signs of his generosity, ‘seen in countless ways through the witness of those people who quietly took a risk.’
Gazing upon the manger, we remember how Jesus ‘wanted to be close to all those who felt lost, demeaned, hurt, discouraged, inconsolable and frightened; close to all those who in their bodies carry the burden of separation and loneliness, so that sin, shame, hurt, despair and exclusion would not have the final word in the lives of his sons and daughters.’
His sacrifice and love challenges people ‘not to give up on anything or anyone,’ and to find the strength to forge ahead ‘without complaining or being resentful, without closing in on ourselves or seeking a means of escape, looking for shortcuts in our own interest.’
After the prayer service, the Pope walked into St Peter’s Square instead of using the Popemobile. He walked the entire periphery of the square, stopping to shake hands, receive cards and notes, offer happy New Year’s greetings, bless babies and chat with people lining the barricades. In the centre of the square, the Pope prayed silently before the Vatican Nativity scene, which was created by a Maltese artist. He also stood before the twisted and crumbled spire from the St. Benedict Basilica in Norcia, which like dozens of villages and towns, was damaged in a series of earthquakes in central Italy.
—This story ran in full in the January 6 edition print of the SCO, available in parishes.