Merry Christmas! Let us build a world of justice and peace
It has been an ongoing Christmas tradition of mine to reflect upon the latest Vatican message for the Celebration of the World Day of Peace. This year Pope Benedict chose for his topic: Educating Young People in Justice and Peace.
The Holy Father acknowledges that these are dark times, there is a crisis in labour and the economy and "It seems as if a shadow has fallen over our time, preventing us from clearly seeing the light of day." He proposes that "the young, with their enthusiasm and idealism, can offer new hope to the world." He says that teaching young people is "a primary duty for society as a whole, for the sake of building a future of justice and peace."
Pope Benedict writes about education in truth and freedom: "The right use of freedom, then, is central to the promotion of justice and peace, which require respect for oneself and others, including those whose way of being and living differs greatly from one’s own. This attitude engenders the elements without which peace and justice remain merely words without content: mutual trust, the capacity to hold constructive dialogue, the possibility of forgiveness, which one constantly wishes to receive but finds hard to bestow, mutual charity, compassion towards the weakest, as well as readiness to make sacrifices."
He states that the value of a person is threatened by a tendency to view others by criteria of "utility, profit and material possessions". Furthermore, peace isn't just the absence of war by "maintaining a balance of powers between adversaries", but rather "Peace cannot be attained on earth without safeguarding the goods of persons, free communication among men, respect for the dignity of persons and peoples, and the assiduous practice of fraternity." The human family is one family, reconciled in love.
We must be active in our pursuit of peace, because peace "is not merely a gift to be received: it is also a task to be undertaken. In order to be true peacemakers, we must educate ourselves in compassion, solidarity, working together, fraternity, in being active within the community and concerned to raise awareness about national and international issues and the importance of seeking adequate mechanisms for the redistribution of wealth, the promotion of growth, cooperation for development and conflict resolution. 'Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God", as Jesus says in the Sermon on the Mount (Mt 5:9). '"
The Holy Father ends with this inspiring paragraph: "All you men and women throughout the world, who take to heart the cause of peace: peace is not a blessing already attained, but rather a goal to which each and all of us must aspire. Let us look with greater hope to the future; let us encourage one another on our journey; let us work together to give our world a more humane and fraternal face; and let us feel a common responsibility towards present and future generations, especially in the task of training them to be people of peace and builders of peace. With these thoughts I offer my reflections and I appeal to everyone: let us pool our spiritual, moral and material resources for the great goal of 'educating young people in justice and peace'. "
Merry Christmas everyone! May we all work together to create a world of justice and peace for all!