Pope Francis speaks during an audience in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican Sept. 3. CNS photo/Paul Haring

Conferences won't achieve peace if the heart is at war

By  Vatican Radio
  • September 8, 2016

Resuming the daily Mass at the Casa Santa Marta after the summer break, Pope Francis, in his homily, spoke about the importance of working for peace in small, daily actions – because, he said, it is in small daily gestures that peace on a global scale is born.

It is not so much great international meetings that produce peace, he said. Rather, peace is a gift from God which is born in small places: in the heart, for instance; or in a dream, as happened to St Joseph when the angel told him not to fear to take Mary as his wife, because she would give the world “Emmanuel”, that is, “God with us.” And “God with us”, the Pope said, “is peace.”

A gift we work for each day

The Pope began his reflection from the liturgy, which pronounces the word “peace” from the very first prayer. The Holy Father focused on the words of the opening prayer, “that we might all grow in unity and in peace.” We must work “to grow” in peace, he said, because peace is a gift “that has its own life journey”; and so, each one of us must work to develop it:

“And this path of saints and sinners tells us that we too ought to take this gift of peace and make it the path in our own life, make it enter into us, make it enter the world. Peace is not made overnight; peace is a gift, but a gift that must be taken up and worked on every day. For this reason, we can say that peace is a gift that is crafted in the hands of men. We men and women, each day, should take a step towards peace: It is our work. It is our work with the gift we have received: to make peace.”

War in our hearts, war in the world

But how can we succeed in this objective? the Pope asked. He pointed to a specific word in the liturgy of the day, which speaks of “littleness”: that of Mary, which is celebrated at Christmas, and also that of Bethlehem, “so small that you are not even on the maps,” as Francis paraphrased:

“Peace is a gift, it is a handcrafted gift that we must work for every day; but doing so in the small things, in daily ‘littleness.’ Great manifestations for peace, great international encounters, are not enough if peace is not then made in little things. On the contrary, you can speak of peace with splendid words, putting together a great conference… But if in your little things, in your heart, there is no peace, in your family there is no peace, in your neighbourhood there is no peace, in your place of work there is no peace, there will not be peace in the world.”

The question to ask

Pope Francis suggested that we should ask God for the grace of “the wisdom to make peace, in the little things of each day, but aiming at the horizons of the whole of humanity,” especially today, in which “we are living a war and all are seeking peace.” And in the meantime, he said, it would be good to start with this question:

“How is your heart, today? Is it at peace? If it is not at peace, before speaking of peace, make sure your own heart is at peace. How is your family, today? Is it at peace? If you are not able to bring peace to your family, your rectory, your congregation, bringing it more peace, then words of peace for the world are not enough. This is the question that I would like to ask today: How is the heart of each one of us? Is it at peace? How is the family of each one of us? Is it at peace? That’s how it is, isn’t it? To achieve peace in the world.”

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