Today, on New Year’s Day, we celebrate the second of the three solemnities of the Christmas season: the Solemnity of Mary, the Holy Mother of God. Without Mary’s cooperation, God’s plan for our salvation could not have come to completion. Saint Paul sums it up in today’s Second Reading: “When the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to ransom those under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.” (Galatians 4:4-5) On this day we express our debt of gratitude to Mary, whose response to God was: “Behold I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be done to me according to your word.”
For 50 years now January 1 has been observed by Catholics, at least, as the World Day of Peace. For his message for the 50th annual World Day of Peace, Pope Francis has chosen the theme, “Nonviolence: A Style of Politics for Peace.” He begins his message with these words:
This is the fiftieth Message for the World Day of Peace. In the first, Blessed Pope Paul VI addressed all peoples, not simply Catholics, with utter clarity. “Peace is the only true direction of human progress–and not the tensions caused by ambitious nationalisms, nor conquests by violence, nor repressions which serve as mainstay for a false civil order.” He warned of “the danger of believing that international controversies cannot be resolved by the ways of reason, that is, by negotiations founded on law, justice, and equity, but only by means of deterrent and murderous forces.” Instead, citing the encyclical Pacem in Terris of his predecessor Saint John XXIII, he extolled “the sense and love of peace founded upon truth, justice, freedom and love.” In the intervening fifty years, these words have lost none of their significance or urgency.
Then, after elucidating the effectiveness of nonviolence, Pope Francis concludes his message with these words:
As is traditional, I am signing this Message on 8 December, the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Mary is the Queen of Peace. At the birth of her Son, the angels gave glory to God and wished peace on earth to men and women of good will (cf. Luke 2:14). Let us pray for her guidance.
All of us want peace. Many people build it day by day through small gestures and acts; many of them are suffering, yet patiently persevere in their efforts to be peacemakers. In 2017, may we dedicate ourselves prayerfully and actively to banishing violence from our hearts, words and deeds, and to becoming nonviolent people and to building nonviolent communities that care for our common home. Nothing is impossible if we turn to God in prayer. Everyone can be an artisan of peace.
To read The Holy Father’s message in its entirety, go to <w2.vatican.va>, click on the English logo, then click on “Messages,” then “World Day of Peace.”
Father Richmond and I wish to thank all who remembered us with prayers, cards, gifts, homemade treats and wines this Christmas. It is always heartwarming to know how much our ministry means to you. I want to express gratitude also to all who donated and delivered cookies to our homebound parishioners before Christmas. I can assure you, from those I visited, that they were very much appreciated.
Enjoy these holy holidays as you gather with family and friends. Pray for the safety of all who are traveling during these days and remember those who are far from home, especially those serving overseas.
May God bless us all throughout the coming year.