Wednesday, April 15, 2020

General Audience: Blessed are the peacemakers

This morning's General Audience began at 9:30am local time (3:30am EDT) in the Library at the Vatican Apostolic Palace.

In his speech, the Pope continued the cycle of catechesis on the Beatitudes, adding his meditation on the seventh Beatitude: Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God (Mt 5: 9).

After having summarized his catechesis in various languages, the Holy Father offered particular greetings to each group of the faithful.

The General Audience concluded with the recitation of the Pater Noster and the Apostolic blessing.

Catechesis of His Holiness, Pope Francis
for the General Audience

Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!

Today's catechesis is dedicated to the seventh Beatitude, that of the peacemakers, who are proclaimed children of God. I am glad that this is taking place immediately after Easter, because the peace of Christ is the fruit of his death and resurrection, as we have heard in the reading from Saint Paul. To understand this Beatitude, one must explain the meaning of the word peace, which can be misunderstood or sometimes trivialized.

We must orient ourselves between two ideas of peace: the first is the biblical one, where the beautiful word shalòm appears: a word which expresses abundance, prosperity, well-being. When in Hebrew we wish shalòm, we wish for a beautiful, full, prosperous life, but also according to truth and justice, which will be fulfilled in the Messiah, the prince of peace (cf Is 9: 6; Micah 5: 4-5).

Then there is the other sense, a more widespread interpretation, whereby the word peace is understood as a sort of inner tranquility: I am calm, I am at peace. This is a modern, psychological and more subjective idea. Peace is commonly thought to be quiet, harmony, internal balance. This meaning of the word peace is incomplete and cannot be absolutized, because restlessness in life can be an important moment of growth. Many times it is the Lord himself who sows uneasiness in us in order to motivate a desire within us to go out to meet him, to find him. In this sense it is an important moment of growth; while it may happen that inner tranquility corresponds to a domesticated conscience and not to a true spiritual redemption. Many times the Lord must be a sign of contradiction (cf Lk 2: 34-35), shaking our false security, in order to bring us to salvation. And at that moment we seem to have no peace, but it is the Lord who puts us on this path to reach the peace that He himself will give us.

At this point we must remember that the Lord understands his peace as different from human peace, the peace of the world, when he says: I leave you peace, I give you my peace. Not as the world gives it, I give it to you (Jn 14: 27). The peace of Jesus is another peace, different from worldly peace.

Let us ask ourselves: how does the world give peace? If we think about the conflicts of war, wars normally end in one of two ways: either with the defeat of one of the two parties, or with peace treaties. We can only hope and pray that this second way may always be chosen; however, we must consider that history is an infinite series of peace treaties denied by successive wars, or by the metamorphosis of those same wars in other ways or in other places. Even in our time, a war in pieces is being fought on several scenarios and in different ways (cf Homily in the Military Shrine of Redipuglia, 13 September 2014; Homily in Sarajevo, 6 June 2015; Speech to the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts, February 21, 2020).  We must at least suspect that in the context of a globalization made up above all of economic or financial interests, the peace of some corresponds to the war of others. And this is not the peace of Christ!

Instead, how does the Lord Jesus give his peace? We have heard Saint Paul say that the peace of Christ is to make two into one (cf Eph 2:14), to cancel enmity and to reconcile. And the way to accomplish this work of peace is Jesus' body. Indeed, he reconciles all things and makes peace with the blood of his cross, as the Apostle himself says elsewhere (cf Col 1:20).

And here I wonder, we can all ask ourselves: who, then, are the peacemakers? The seventh Beatitude is the most active, explicitly operative; the verbal expression is analogous to that which is used in the first verse of the Bible for creation, which indicates initiative and industriousness. Love by its nature is creative - love is always creative - and love seeks reconciliation at any cost. Those who have learned and who exercise the art of peace are called children of God, they know that there is no reconciliation without the gift of one's life, and that peace must always be sought ... always and in every way: don't forget this! It should be looked for like this. This is not an autonomous work that is the fruit of one's own abilities, it is a manifestation of the grace received from Christ, who is our peace, who made us children of God.

True shalòm and true inner balance flow from the peace of Christ, which comes from his Cross and generates a new humanity, embodied in an infinite host of saints, inventive, creative people who have devised ever new ways to love. The Saints build peace. This life as children of God, who seek and find their brothers and sisters united in the blood of Christ, is true happiness. Blessed are those who choose this way.

And once again, Happy Easter to all of you, in the peace of Christ!
Testo originale nella lingua italiana

The Holy Father's catechesis was then summarized in various languages and His Holiness shared greetings with each group of the faithful.  To French-speaking viewers, he said:

Je salue cordialement les personnes de langue française ! Alors que nous célébrons la Résurrection du Seigneur, demandons-lui de faire de nous des artisans de paix et de réconciliation, afin qu’en ces temps d’épreuve nous nous reconnaissions tous enfants d’un même Père ! De nouveau bonne fête de Pâques à tous, dans la paix du Christ. Et que Dieu vous bénisse.

I cordially greet French-speaking people! As we celebrate the Lord's Resurrection, let us ask him to make us peacemakers and reconcilers, so that in these trying times we may all recognize ourselves as children of the same Father! Again happy Easter to all, in the peace of Christ. May God bless you.

To English-speaking viewers, he said:

I greet the English-speaking faithful joining us through the media. In the joy of the Risen Christ, I invoke upon you and your families the loving mercy of God our Father. May the Lord bless you!

To German-speaking viewers, he said:

Liebe Brüder und Schwestern, frohe, gesegnete Ostern! Jesus hat sich mit seinem ganzen irdischen Leben, bis hin zum Tod am Kreuz, hingegeben, um die Menschen mit Gott zu versöhnen. In der tiefen Einheit mit Gott findet auch der Mensch wieder zu einem gesunden Verhältnis zu seinen Mitmenschen, zu sich selbst und zur ganzen Schöpfung. Dieser Friede Christi sei immer mit euch!

Dear brothers and sisters, happy, blessed Easter! Jesus gave himself with all his earthly life, up to death on the cross, in order to reconcile people with God. In deep unity with God, man also finds a healthy relationship with his fellow man, with himself and with the whole of creation. May this peace of Christ be with you always!

To Spanish-speaking viewers, he said:

Saludo cordialmente a los fieles de lengua española que siguen esta catequesis a través de los medios de comunicación social. Los animo a colaborar con Dios en la tarea de construir la paz, en cada momento y en cada lugar, comenzando por aquellas situaciones que viven ustedes y con las personas que tienen alrededor; de manera particular, en estos momentos que estamos viviendo a causa de la pandemia, para que, con un gesto concreto de bien, puedan llevar la ternura, la alegría y la paz de Cristo Resucitado.

Feliz pascua de Resurrección. Y que Dios los bendiga.

I cordially greet the Spanish-speaking faithful who are following this catechesis through the media. I encourage you to collaborate with God in the task of promoting peace, at every moment and in every place, beginning with those situations that you are living and with the people around you; in particular, in these moments that we are living because of the pandemic, so that, with a concrete gesture of good, you can bring the tenderness, joy and peace of the Risen Christ to others.

Happy Easter. And may God bless you.

To Portuguese-speaking viewers, he said:

Amados ouvintes de língua portuguesa, «a paz do Senhor esteja com todos vós». Do túmulo onde O fechamos, Cristo Jesus saiu para nós, para trazer a vida onde havia a morte. Ele ressuscitou para nós e não nos deixará faltar nada: apoiados nesta certeza, conseguiremos superar todas as dificuldades. De novo, a todos desejo uma Páscoa feliz, na paz de Cristo.

Beloved Portuguese-speaking listeners, May the peace of the Lord be with you all. From the tomb where we enclosed Him, Christ Jesus came out to us, in order to bring life where there was death. He is risen for us and will not let us lack anything: supported by this certainty, we will be able to overcome all difficulties. Again, I wish you all a happy Easter, in the peace of Christ.

To Arabic-speaking viewers, he said:

أُحيِّي المؤمنينَ الناطقينَ باللغةِ العربية، المتابعين لهذا المقابلة عِبر وسائل التواصل الاجتماعي! إن السلام هو هبة من الله، وهو ثمرة الجهاد الروحي المستمر لحمل الصليب كل يوم خلف المسيح، لأن من يؤمن بالله يجب أن يترجم إيمانه بمحبة جميع خلائقه. يجب أن يتحول إلى أداة سلام لجميع الإخوة. الرب يبارككم وأتمنى لكم فصحًا مجيدًا!

I greet Arabic-speaking believers who are following this Audience via social media! Peace is a gift from God, and it is the fruit of the ongoing spiritual struggle to carry the cross every day behind Christ, because whoever believes in God must translate his faith into love for all of his creation. We must become instruments of peace for all our brothers and sisters. God bless you and I wish you a glorious Easter!

To Polish-speaking viewers, he said:

Serdecznie pozdrawiam Polaków. W niedzielę będziemy obchodzili święto Bożego Miłosierdzia. Św. Jan Paweł II ustanowił je, odpowiadając na prośbę Pana Jezusa przekazaną św. Faustynie. Powiedział tak: „pragnę, aby święto Miłosierdzia było ucieczką i schronieniem dla wszystkich dusz. Nie zazna ludzkość spokoju, dopokąd nie zwróci się do źródła miłosierdzia mojego” (Dz 699). Z ufnością módlmy się do Jezusa Miłosiernego za Kościół i za całą ludzkość, szczególnie za tych, którzy cierpią w tym bardzo trudnym czasie. Niech Chrystus Zmartwychwstały ożywi w nas nadzieję i ducha wiary. Z serca wam błogosławię.

I cordially greet all Poles. On Sunday, we will celebrate the feast of Divine Mercy. Saint John Paul II established this feast, answering the request of the Lord Jesus presented to Saint Faustina. He said: I want the Feast of Mercy to be a refuge and shelter for all souls. Humanity will not know peace until it turns to the source of my mercy (Acts 699). Let us pray with confidence to Merciful Jesus for the Church and for all humanity, especially for those who are suffering in this very difficult time. May the Risen Christ give us hope and a spirit of faith. I bless you with all my heart.

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