ROME – On All Saints Day, Pope Francis offered a reflection on peace, which he said is never achieved by wielding power or weapons but is built day by day with patience and closeness to God.
Speaking to faithful present in St. Peter’s Square during a Nov. 1 Angelus address, the pope said people are often led to believe “that peace comes by force and power,” but insisted that for Jesus, “it is the opposite.”
“His life and that of the saints tell us that the seed of peace, in order to grow and bear fruit, must first die,” he said, adding, “Peace is not achieved by conquering or defeating someone; it is never violent, it is never armed.”
Francis said the feast of All Saints is not a celebration of those who lived a “starched” and “picture-perfect holiness,” and that Jesus’ sermon on the Beatitudes in the day’s Gospel “belies this stereotypical view.”
He focused his reflection on the Beatitudes, saying they indicate the opposite of perfection, but rather point to a life “that is countercultural and revolutionary.”
Specifically, the pope focused on Jesus’ declaration of “Blessed are the peacemakers,” which he said is a timely reflection and also proof that the peace Jesus offers “is very different from that we imagine.”
“We all long for peace, but often what we want is to be at peace, to be left in peace, to have no problems, just tranquility,” whereas Jesus, he said, “does not call blessed those who are in peace, but those who make peace, the constructors, the peacemakers.”
Like any construction project, Pope Francis said peace “requires effort, collaboration, patience.”
While many would like peace “to rain down from above,” the Bible, he said, instructs believers to sow peace, “because it germinates from the soil of life, from the seed of our heart; it grows in silence, day after day, through works of justice and mercy, as the luminous witnesses we are celebrating today show us.”
Insisting that peace can never come as a result of force or violence, Francis said that just as the world must lay down arms, each person must do so at an individual level.
To become a peacemaker, “one must disarm the heart,” he said, adding, “we are all equipped with aggressive thoughts and sharp words, and we think to defend ourselves with the barbed wire of complaint and the concrete walls of indifference.”
True peace “calls for the demilitarization of the field of the heart,” he said, saying this is accomplished by opening oneself to Jesus, going to confession, and reflecting on the cross, “which is the cathedra of peace.”
“This is where we begin, because being peacemakers, being saints, is not our ability, it is his gift, it is grace,” he said, and urged believers to question themselves on their own peacemaking efforts in the various areas of their lives, whether it be work, study, or at home.
“Do we bring tension, words that hurt, gossip that poisons, controversy? Or do we open up the way to peace: Do we forgive those who have offended us, do we care for those who are at the margins, do we redress some injustice by helping those who have less?” he said, adding, “This is building peace.”
Francis said another question worth asking is whether it is worth it to strive to live this way, as it might appear to some that they are “losing out.”
While peacemakers might seem “out of place” in the world since they lack the logic of power and influence, these people “will be the closest to God,” he said, insisting that “even here those who prevail remain empty-handed, while those who love everyone and hurt no one win.”
After leading faithful in praying the traditional Angelus prayer, Pope Francis asked for prayers for his upcoming Nov. 3-6 visit to Bahrain, and urged prayers for peace in “martyred Ukraine,” saying, “Let us pray, let us pray that there be peace in Ukraine.”
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