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A vision of peace

A vision of peace

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11.JAN.08

For forty years the Church has been promoting January 1st as the World Day of Peace. After all this time it is clear that the way to peace is a long and challenging road. Yet we must never lose our vision of peace. As we begin a New Year, we celebrate the Day of Peace with the hope for a year of peace. Christ is our peace. The world needs Christ and the world needs peace!{{more}}

In spite of all the conflicts in our world, there still exists a great deal of goodwill among people. In people’s hearts there is still a deep desire for something more and something better for our world. There are still many generous and kind people making a difference in other people’s lives and building peace. Building a culture of peace must become the way of building a better world, a world where all women and men can live together in harmony and unity. The vision of peace is a vision of hope for the world. Blessed are the peacemakers!

Where is peace missing? Peace is missing in hearts that have gone cold, cynical, angry, bitter and violent. Peace is missing in nations at war, in places of oppression and terrorism. Peace is missing where people are not free and justice is lacking. Peace is missing where innocent life is threatened and destroyed. Peace is missing where dishonesty and the culture of lies and deception prevail. Daily we see how conflicts, greed, tyranny, corruption and disagreements crush and destroy peace. It’s easy to despair and lose our vision of peace and forget that we are our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers. Now is the time for planting hope and opening the world to peace. We belong to the great human family and are all sisters and brothers. If we don’t believe this we are still in darkness without a way to true peace.

Some of our great global challenges today directly impact on peace and the future of civilization. Pope Benedict in his World Day of Peace Message for 2008 which describes the human family as a community of peace refers to the great division and sharp conflicts which cast dark shadows on the future:”Vast areas of the world”, he says “are caught up in situations of increasing tension, while the danger of an increase in the number of countries possessing nuclear weapons causes well-founded apprehension in every responsible person”.

He refers to the Middle East as ‘a theatre of conflict and violence’. He also refers to civil wars in Africa, the growing arms race, the profits from the sale of arms and the need for an ‘effective demilitarization, especially in the area of nuclear arms. “At a time”, the Pope says “when the process of nuclear non-proliferation is at a stand-still, I feel bound to entreat those in authority to resume with greater determination negotiations for a progressive and mutually agreed dismantling of existing nuclear weapons. In renewing this appeal, I know that I am echoing the desire of all those concerned for the future of humanity”. (Message #14)

The recent assassination of Benasir Bhutto in Pakistan has undermined peace in that nation and impacted upon the human family called to be a community of peace. At the beginning of this New Year we have to pray for a new world of justice and peace and in our region we have to do what we can to make the world a safer and better place for people today and for future generations. We cannot lose the vision of peace or the commitment to build a new civilization of love. In nations with elections this year within our hemisphere, we pray that each election will be contested within the democratic framework of peace, respect, honesty and non-violence. Promoting a culture of peace is a way to building a world of peace.

Where do we find peace? We find peace where people are working and living together in harmony, building bridges of reconciliation and living the Beatitudes. We find peace where nations are working for true development as well as a just and better world. We find peace where human life and the dignity of each person are respected and defended.

The natural family is the first and indispensable teacher of peace. It is the cradle and sanctuary of life and love. It is also referred to as the domestic or little church where faith is transmitted and moral values are communicated and imbibed. This little cell that is so vital for society is crucial for building peace. We must never underestimate the power and influence of the family. The family is a powerful force for building a culture of honesty, peace and non-violence. It is the place for educating children in peace. In the family we nurture the vision of peace.

I wish to conclude this reflection on peace with words based on the thoughts of Dom Helder Camara, (The Conversations of a Bishop Ch. 19), the renowned bishop of Recife in Brazil:

O Year 2008, our vehicle through time! Don’t be an outsider at our Eucharist. Take an active part in our thanksgiving…With all our capabilities for banishing misery from the earth and destroying all life in the universe, we continue to play this stupid game of manufacturing armaments which we know are powerful enough to mean suicide for all humankind.

It is a pity that as we begin to reach out toward the stars we leave behind us on earth an absurdity, a folly, an aberration: more than two-thirds of humanity living in sub-human conditions, suffering from poverty and starvation…

What a joy it is to know that without recourse to armed violence, young people – who have most reason for living! – will discover the secret of union between regions, between countries, between continents, between worlds. And then, animated by a Love that’s more powerful than death, we shall conquer war! We shall abolish racism! We shall overcome terrorism! We shall suppress the empires of darkness that are destroying the souls of our youth and the hope of our nations!

O Year 2008! Do you know what I am asking of you now? That you awaken hope, that you mobilize youth, that you encourage peacemakers, and that you fight for the cause of unity. You will find that many people’s hopes are faded, intermittent and languishing. Many people are skeptical – or in despair…

Jesus, Love Incarnate, is our hope and source of unity. His vision for the world is peace through reconciliation, justice, love and unity.

O Year 2008! Suggest, teach, persuade: the day will come when all the world’s minorities will unite to construct a world that is more just and more humane, the day when we shall finally discover the nuclear force of Love!

Blessed are those who do not love their vision of peace for a world of peace!

Extract from a homily preached by Most Rev. Robert Rivas O.P.
January 1, 2008

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