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Pope Francis, Mary and the Journey Toward Peace

What is peace?

This Christmas there has been so much talk of how to survive division at family meals. Often, we may be tempted to say, “You are entitled to your opinion but not your facts.” It seems we have come the point today that we can’t even agree on facts. Two family members can look at the same event and interpret if quite differently.

Why this division? It is much deeper than politics… It is rooted in how we see. …  And how we see is rooted in what we believe.

So it is not surprising that we have different ideas of peace.

Some look at an event and see only how far short it falls of what they believe about a peace in the future. Others look at an event and see only how far short it falls of an imagined past period of peace.

 But the differences go even deeper than that. So many today see peace as a zero-sum game… If you win, I lose.  They believe that there is only one winner. You must lose in order for me to win.

Pilate famously asked what is truth? Today we must ask what is peace and how can we find peace.

Pope Francis speaks of peace in 2020

Pope Francis shares his beliefs on the occasion of the 53rd celebration of the World Day of Peace on January 1.

Pope Francis believes that peace is not a zero-sum game when he says

Peace and international stability are incompatible with attempts to build upon the fear of mutual destruction or the threat of total annihilation… Every threatening situation feeds mistrust and leads people to withdraw into their own safety zone.

Listen to what else he says to you and me.

(Peace) can be achieved only on the basis of a global ethic of solidarity and cooperation in the service of a future shaped by interdependence and shared responsibility in the whole human family of today and tomorrow”.[2]

In other words… Only by choosing the path of respect can we break the spiral of vengeance and set out on the journey of hope.

He is echoing what Jesus taught… and lived… this global ethic of solidarity.

  • Jesu taught us to pray “our Father. He certainly lived that!
  • Jesus taught that whatever we do for the least of brothers and sisters we do for him. He certainly lived that!
  • Jesus taught us by example not only to wash one another’s feet  and, from the cross, to forgive even our enemies.

Pope Francis believes that peace is a journey of reconciliation.

This path of reconciliation is a summons to discover in the depths of our hearts the power of forgiveness and the capacity to acknowledge one another as brothers and sisters.

When we learn to live in forgiveness, we grow in our capacity to become men and women of peace.

…The journey of reconciliation calls for patience and trust. Peace will not be obtained unless it is hoped for. In the first place, this means believing in the possibility of peace, believing that others need peace just as much as we do. Here we can find inspiration in the love that God has for each of us: a love that is liberating, limitless, gratuitous and tireless.

Even more powerfully, he believes…

“It is the best way to change the world – we change, the Church changes, history changes, once we stop trying to change others but try to change ourselves and to make of our life a gift.”

“When we learn to live In love and forgiveness” we begin a journey that leads to something more powerful that nuclear weapons.

Mary and the ethic of global solidarity 

Mary longed mightily for the peace to come with the establishment of the kingdom. She and her ancestors thought they knew what peace would mean… deliverance from the oppressor of the time.

But, as Palm Sunday showed, the peace that Jesus was bringing was not what they imagined! Mary was flexible enough to recognize that peace was a journey that led down a far different path than what she expected.

Once Mary asked “How can this be?” But in the journey of her life from the Annunciation and all through her life she continually asked “how can this be?  She learned to be flexible and discovered undreamed of implications of her longing for peace. And she came to believe more maturely that the almighty had truly done great things for her … and for us.

Mary embodied the global ethic of solidarity. Think of her solidarity at

  • the Visitation when, in the midst of still trying to make sense of what she had said yes to, journeyed to help her kinswomen.
  • Cana when she quietly interceded for a couple that was about to be embarrassed.
  • above all at the foot of the Cross when she accepted her role as mother of a suffering servant and her role as mother of us all and of the church.

She never heard the words “global ethic of solidarity. She lived them. Will we, you and I, live them as she lived them.

What is peace?

  • Hopefully, we can all agree that peace is not a zero-sum game but a game in which everyone wins.
  • Hopefully, we can all agree that peace  is not a given but a journey of reconciliation, something to be worked at primarily by working on ourselves.

May we, each of us, as fellow travelers, be instruments of peace!

Our journey of peace

  • Am I willing to accept that I am not infallible?
  • Am I willing to look at the deepest hopes of my brothers and sisters to see the depths of what we long for in common?
  • Am I willing to reconcile and work together in solidarity for our common interests?

Mary, Queen of Peace, pray for us on our journey toward peace!

 

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