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4-POPE-CHRISTMAS-EVE

Holy Father asks for commitment to peace

— Pope Francis dedicates first homily of Christmas, first Christmas first Urbi et Orbi to cause, and World Day of Peace message

Pope Francis used his official Christmas message to make an impassioned plea for all the people of the world to join him in working for peace every day of their lives.

On Christmas Day the Holy Father delivered his first Urbi et Orbi (to the city and the world) Christmas message, calling on Christians to unite with non-believers to create a better world.

“Peace is a daily commitment,” the Pope said. “It is a homemade peace.” He added that people of other religions were also praying for peace. “I invite even non-believers to desire peace. (Join us) with your desire, a desire that widens the heart. Let us all unite, either with prayer or with desire, but everyone, for peace.”

Everyone could be his or her own personal ‘artisan’ peacemaker, said Pope Francis, who paid particular reference to the need for humanitarian aid in Syria, where ‘hate and revenge is being fomented daily.’

He asked that ‘hearts filled with violence’ be converted and convinced to lay down their arms and instead follow the path of dialogue. He also pleaded for divine intervention to rescue child soldiers ‘robbed of their childhood’ and for dialogue and an end to conflicts in Syria, Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Iraq, as well as a positive outcome for peace between Israelis and Palestinians.

“War breaks apart and hurts so many lives,” the Pope said, his voice and hands trembling with emphasis as he paused to look out over the rapt crowd packed into St Peter’s Square. Children, elderly, battered women and the sick are among wars’ most vulnerable victims, he added.

He also appealed that the environment be rescued from ‘human greed’ and asked for prayers for the victims of natural catastrophes, such as the people of the Philippines, whose lives were destroyed by the recent typhoon. He also said human trafficking must stop, calling it a ‘crime against humanity’ saying migrants deserve a more dignified life.

The Holy Father underlined the importance of allowing oneself to be ‘warmed by the tenderness of God.’

The Pope’s first Christmas homily on Tuesday night was notable for its brevity, at just over 700 words. It opened with a description of the burst of light on a dark Christmas night, and said the contrast of light and dark is part of the spiritual life.

“If we love God and our brothers and sisters, we walk in the light,” the Pope said. “If our heart is closed, if we are dominated by pride, deceit, self-seeking, then darkness falls within us and around us.”

Describing the traditional Christmas story of the birth of Christ in a manger, he recalled how the shepherds heard the news first.

Toward the end of the homily, he also repeated that the Lord is merciful, repeating what has become one of his more common phrases, ‘God always forgives.’

 

 

—This story ran in full in the January 3 edition print of the SCO, available in parishes.

 

 

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