Happy New Year!  On January 1st we celebrate the coming of the New Year, as well as celebrating our Blessed Mother under the title Mary, Mother of God.  Catholics also observe January 1st as the World Day of Peace, certainly an important intention given the many areas of conflict throughout our world and even in our own nation.  In that spirit, here is a portion of Pope Francis’ address from last year’s World Day of Peace, which I hope may aid in your own reflection on this day.  The full text can be found at https://www.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/messages/peace/documents/papa-francesco_20201208_messaggio-54giornatamondiale-pace2021.html.

 

Jesus’ life and ministry represent the supreme revelation of the Father’s love for humanity… At the culmination of his mission, Jesus gave the ultimate proof of his care for us by offering himself on the cross to set us free from the slavery of sin and death. By the sacrificial gift of his life, he opened for us the path of love. To each of us he says, “Follow me; go and do likewise”.

 

The spiritual and corporal works of mercy were at the heart of charity as practised by the early Church. The first generation of Christians shared what they had, so that no one among them would be in need. They strove to make their community a welcoming home, concerned for every human need and ready to care for those most in need …

 

The compass of these social principles, so essential for the growth of a culture of care, also points to the need for relationships between nations to be inspired by fraternity, mutual respect, solidarity, and the observance of international law. In this regard, we must recognize the need to defend and promote fundamental human rights, which are inalienable, universal, and indivisible.

 

Likewise urgent is the need to respect humanitarian law, especially at this time when conflicts and wars continue uninterrupted. Tragically, many regions and communities can no longer remember a time when they dwelt in security and peace…While such conflicts have many causes, the result is always the same: destruction and humanitarian crises. We need to stop and ask ourselves what has led our world to see conflict as something normal, and how our hearts can be converted and our ways of thinking changed, in order to work for true peace in solidarity and fraternity…

 

At a time like this, when the barque of humanity, tossed by the storm of the current crisis, struggles to advance towards a calmer and more serene horizon, the “rudder” of human dignity and the “compass” of fundamental social principles can enable us together to steer a sure course. As Christians, we should always look to Our Lady, Star of the Sea and Mother of Hope. May we work together to advance towards a new horizon of love and peace, of fraternity and solidarity, of mutual support and acceptance. May we never yield to the temptation to disregard others, especially those in greatest need, and to look the other way; instead, may we strive daily, in concrete and practical ways, “to form a community composed of brothers and sisters who accept and care for one another”.