ROME – In a special Mass celebrated for peace in Ukraine, Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin said prayer is never useless, and asked all sides to imitate Jesus’ call to be peacemakers by silencing their weapons.

Parolin celebrated the March 16 Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica with the diplomatic corps accredited to the Holy See.

Both the ambassadors of Russia and Ukraine to the Holy See were present at the Mass, as were several top-ranking Vatican officials, including British Archbishop Paul Gallagher, the Vatican’s secretary for relations with states.

In his homily, Parolin said they had gathered “to implore from God the gift of peace in Ukraine and to ask him to help every man and woman of goodwill to be peacemakers.”

Recalling Jesus’ assertion in the Sermon on the Mount that “blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God,” Parolin said peace is “a characteristic of God himself.”

Noting that God is described by Saint Paul in scripture as a “God of peace,” Parolin said God loves his creation and watches over it as a father, and as such, He is “not indifferent to the situation we are experiencing.”

He quoted Pope Francis’s March 6 Sunday Angelus address, in which the pope said, “rivers of blood” are flowing through Ukraine and insisted that the conflict is “not just a special military operation,” as Russian authorities have insisted ever since they invaded Ukraine Feb. 24, but is “a war which sows death, destruction, and misery.”

“If we are here to pray for peace, it’s because we are convinced that prayer is never useless, that prayer can also change the most desperate situations, it can change hearts and minds,” Parolin said.

This, he said, is affirmed by the Prophet Ezekiel, who said, “I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.”

“We have this certainty,” Parolin said, and thanked the diplomatic corps for gathering for the Mass.

He turned to the day’s Gospel reading, in which the mother of Zebedee asked Jesus to reserve for her sons a seat at his right and his left in heaven.

While this is “a legitimate desire of a mother, as all mothers want the best for their children,” Jesus has something else in mind, telling his disciples instead that while rulers of the world lord their power over others, “It shall not be so you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must be your slave.”

In this scene, there are “two different logics” and two different types of glory, Parolin said, insisting that God’s glory “passes through the Cross,” while that of the world is seen in displays of power and success.

“Through the Cross we reach life, glory…This is the greatness of God,” who washed the feet of his disciples, he said, adding, “Don’t you think that if we really put these words of Jesus into practice, this example of Jesus, all of the conflicts of the world will slowly, one by one, go away?”

“Don’t think that if we listened more to our Lord, weapons would be silent, indeed they shouldn’t even be built and produced?” he said.

Ultimately, war is not just a political and economic problem, but spiritual, he said.

“We want to allow ourselves to be questioned and to fix in our hearts the words of Jesus which say that it will not be so among you. The believer with his life testifies that the glory of God is not to oppress, but is exactly the opposite,” Parolin said.

Noting that Jesus at the Last Supper opens by telling his disciples, “Peace I give you,” Parolin said this peace is “his legacy and for this reason the disciple never loses hope.”

“Whoever prays for peace contributes to making the earth more merciful and more human. Let the weapons be silent, God is with the peacemakers,” he said, adding, “We turn to God with a heart broken for what is happening in Ukraine … Save this land from destruction and widespread death.”

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