On the Peace Christ Brought
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"Not the Simple Absence of Conflict"
CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, AUG. 20, 2007 (Zenit) - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI delivered Sunday before reciting the midday Angelus in the courtyard of the papal summer residence at Castel Gandolfo.
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Dear Brothers and Sisters!
There is an expression of Jesus' in this Sunday's Gospel that always draws our attention and which needs to be properly understood. As he is on his way to Jerusalem, where death on the cross awaits him, Christ confides in his disciples: "Do you think that I have come to establish peace on the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division."
And 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" (Luke 12:51-53).
Whoever knows the least amount about the Gospel of Christ knows that it is the message of peace par excellence; Jesus himself, as St. Paul writes, "is our peace" (Ephesians 2:14); he died and rose from the dead to break down the wall of enmity and inaugurated the Kingdom of God, which is love, joy, and peace.
How, then, are we to explain these words of his? To what is the Lord referring when he says that he has come to bring -- according to St. Luke's redaction -- "division," or -- according to St. Matthew's -- the "sword" (Matthew 10:34)?
Christ's expression means the peace that he came to bring is not synonymous with the simple absence of conflict. On the contrary, the peace of Jesus is the fruit of a constant struggle against evil. The battle that Jesus has decided to fight is not against men or human powers but against the enemy of God and man, Satan.
Those who desire to resist this enemy, remaining faithful to God and the good, must necessarily deal with misunderstandings and sometimes very real persecution. Thus, those who intend to follow Jesus and commit themselves without compromises to the truth must know that they will face opposition and will become, despite themselves, a sign of division among persons, even within their own families.
Love of one's parents is indeed a sacred commandment, but for it to be lived authentically it cannot be set in opposition to the love of God and Christ. In such a way, in the footsteps of the Lord Jesus, Christians must become "instruments of his peace," according to the celebrated expression of St. Francis of Assisi. This is not an inconsistent and superficial peace but a real one, pursued with courage and tenacity in the daily commitment to defeat evil with good (cf. Romans 12:21), paying in person the price that this carries with it.
The Virgin Mary, Queen of Peace, shared the struggle of her son Jesus against the evil one, to the point of spiritual martyrdom, and she continues to share this struggle until the end of time. Let us invoke her maternal intercession, that she may help us always to be faithful witnesses to Christ's peace, never giving in to compromises with evil.
[After the Angelus, the Holy Father said:]
In these days our thoughts and our prayers are turned constantly to the people of Peru, who have been stricken by a devastating earthquake. For the many who have died, I invoke the peace of the Lord, for those who have been injured, I ask for quick recovery, and for those thrown into miserable circumstances I assure you that the Church is with you, in spiritual and material solidarity. My secretary of state, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, who for some time had planned a visit to Peru, in the next few days, will, in person, bring the testimony of my sentiments and the concrete help of the Holy See.
This morning in Rimini the "Meeting for Friendship Among Peoples" opened. The theme of this year's meeting is "The Truth Is the Destiny for Which We Have Been Made." In offering a cordial greeting to the organizers, I give the assurance of my prayers that, through the multiple initiatives of the program, the meeting might be for many a profitable occasion for reflection and awareness, to realize the profoundest vocation of man: being a seeker of truth and thus a seeker of God (cf. "Fides et Ratio," prologue).
[The Pope then greeted the people in various languages. In English, he said:]
I am pleased to greet the English-speaking visitors gathered for this Angelus prayer. The readings from today's Mass invite us to lift our eyes to Jesus, who inspires and perfects our faith. May you and your families experience the Lord's closeness during these summer holidays and respond to his love through deeper prayer and more generous acts of charity. Upon all of you I invoke Christ's blessings of joy and peace!
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