It’s lovely to exchange good wishes at the beginning of the year. Thus we renew to one another, the hope that what we await will be somewhat better. It is, fundamentally, a sign of the hope that animates and invites us to believe in life. We know, however, that everything will not change with the new year, and that so many of yesterday’s problems will remain also tomorrow. So I would like to express to you a wish sustained by a real hope, which I draw from today’s Liturgy.
They are the words with which the Lord Himself asks for the blessing of His people: “The Lord make His face shine upon you […] The Lord lift up His countenance upon you” (Numbers 6:25-26). I also wish you this: may the Lord look upon you and enable you to rejoice, knowing that every day His merciful face, more radiant than the sun, will shine on you and never set! To discover God’s face renews life. Because He is a Father enamoured of man, who never tires to start over again with us to renew us. But what patience the Lord has with us! He does not tire to begin over again every time we fall. However, the Lord does not promise magical changes; He does not use a magic wand. He likes to change the reality from within, with patience and love. He asks to enter our life with delicacy, as the rain on the earth, to then bear fruit. And He always awaits us and looks on us with tenderness. Every morning, when we awake, we can say: “May the Lord make His face shine upon me” – a beautiful prayer, which is a reality.
The biblical blessing continues thus: “[The Lord] give you peace” (v. 26). Today we celebrate the International Day of Peace, whose theme is: “Overcome Indifference and Win Peace.” We must cultivate the peace, which God the Father wants to sow in the world, but not only must we cultivate it, it must be “won.” This implies a real and proper fight, a spiritual battle that takes place in our heart. Because war is not the only enemy of peace, but also indifference, which makes one think only of oneself and creates barriers, suspicions, fears and closures. And these things are enemies of peace. Thank God, we have much information, but sometimes we are so immersed in news that we are distracted from reality, from a brother and sister that are in need of us. Let us begin this year to open our heart, reawakening attention to our neighbor, to the one closest to us. This is the way to win peace.
May the Queen of Peace, Mother of God, whose Solemnity we celebrate today, help us in this. She “kept all these things, pondering them in her heart” (Luke 2:19). Hopes and concerns, gratitude and problems: everything that happened in life became a prayer, a dialogue with God in Mary’s heart. And she does this also for us: she keeps the joys and loosens the knots of our life, taking them to the Lord.
We entrust the New Year to our Mother, that peace and mercy may grow.
After the Angelus
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
I wish to thank the President of the Italian Republic for the good wishes he expressed to me yesterday evening in his end of the year Message, and which I return wholeheartedly.
I express my gratitude for the many initiatives of prayer and action for peace organized everywhere in the world on the occasion of today’s International Day of Peace. I am thinking, in particular, of the national March that took place yesterday at Molfetta, promoted by CEI [Italian Episcopal Conference], Caritas, Pax Christi and Catholic Action. It is lovely to know that so many people, especially young people, chose this way of spending the end of the year. I greet affectionately the participants in the “Peace in All Lands” manifestation, organized in Rome and in many countries by the Sant’Egidio Community. Dear friends, I encourage you to go forward in your commitment in favor of reconciliation and concord. And I greet the families of the Family Love Movement, which watched this night in Saint Peter’s Square, praying for peace and unity in families of the whole world. Thank you to all for these beautiful initiatives and for your prayers.
I give a cordial greeting to you all, dear pilgrims present here. A special thought goes to the “Singers of the Star” – Sternsinger — children and youngsters who in Germany and Austria take Jesus’ blessing to homes and collect offerings for the poor of their same age. I greet the friends and volunteers of the Fraterna Domus, the Oratory of Stezzano and the faithful of Taranto.
I wish all a year of peace in the grace of the Lord, rich in mercy, and with the maternal protection of Mary, the Holy Mother of God. And do not forget in the morning, when you wake up, to recall that fragment of God’s blessing: “May the Lord make his face shine upon me today.” Everyone! “May the Lord make His face shine upon me today.” Once again! “May the Lord make His face shine upon me today.”
Happy year, good lunch, and do not forget to pray for me. See you soon!