VATICAN CITY, 1 JAN 2012
In the Vatican Basilicathis morning, Benedict XVI presided at a Eucharistic celebration for theSolemnity of Mary Mother of God. The Mass was concelebrated by CardinalSecretary of State Tarcisio Bertone S.D.B.; Cardinal Peter Kodwo Turkson,president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace; Archbishop GiovanniAngelo Becciu, substitute for General Affairs; Archbishop Dominique Mamberti,secretary for Relations with States; Archbishop Pier Luigi Celata, secretary ofthe Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue, and Bishop Mario TosoS.D.B., secretary of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace. The ceremonyalso marked today's forty-fifth World Day of Peace, which has as its theme:"Educating Young People in Justice and Peace".
Extracts fromBenedict XVI's homily are given below:
"On thefirst day of the year, the liturgy resounds in the Church throughout the worldwith the ancient priestly blessing that we heard during today's first reading:'The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make His face to shine upon you, andbe gracious to you; the Lord lift up His countenance upon you and give youpeace'. ... In order to be blessed, we have to stand in God's presence, takeHis Name upon us and remain ... in a space lit up by His gaze, diffusing graceand peace".
"Theshepherds of Bethlehem had ... the experience of standing in God's presence,they received His blessing ... in a stable, before a 'babe lying in a manger'.From this child, a new light issues forth, shining in the darkness of thenight. ... Henceforth, it is from Him that blessing comes, from His name -Jesus, meaning 'God saves' - and from His human face, in which God, thealmighty Lord of heaven and earth, chose to become incarnate, concealing Hisglory under the veil of our flesh, so as to reveal fully to us His goodness.
"The firstto be swept up by this blessing was Mary the virgin. ... Her whole life wasspent in the light of the Lord, within the radius of His name and of the faceof God incarnate in Jesus, the 'blessed fruit of her womb'.
... The mystery of her divine motherhood that wecelebrate today contains in superabundant measure the gift of grace that allhuman motherhood bears within it. ... The Mother of God is the first of theblessed, and it is she who bears the blessing; she is the woman who receivedJesus into herself and brought Him forth for the whole human family".
"Mary is themother and model of the Church. ... The Church also participates in the mysteryof divine motherhood, through preaching, which sows the seed of the Gospelthroughout the world, and through the Sacraments, which communicate grace anddivine life to men. ... Like Mary, the Church is the mediator of God's blessingfor the world: she receives it in receiving Jesus and she transmits it inbearing Jesus. He is the mercy and the peace that the world, of itself, cannotgive, and which it needs always, at least as much as bread".
Jesus Christ, the path of peace
"The Churchtoo, on the first day of the year, invokes this supreme good in a special way;she does so, like the Virgin Mary, by revealing Jesus to all, for as St. Paulsays, 'He is our peace', and at the same time the 'way'
by which individuals and peoples can reach this goal towhich we all aspire".
"'EducatingYoung People in Justice and Peace' is a task for every generation, and thanksbe to God, after the tragedies of the two great world wars, the human familyhas shown increasing awareness of it, as we can witness, on the one hand, frominternational statements and initiatives, and on the other, from the emergenceamong young people themselves, in recent decades, of many different forms ofsocial commitment in this field. For the ecclesial community, educating men andwomen in peace is part of the mission received from Christ, it is an integralpart of evangelisation, because the Gospel of Christ is also the Gospel ofjustice and peace".
"In the faceof the shadows that obscure the horizon of today's world, to assumeresponsibility for educating young people in knowledge of the truth, infundamental values and virtues, is to look to the future with hope. And in thiscommitment to a holistic education, formation in justice and peace has a place.Boys and girls today are growing up in a world that has, so to speak, becomesmaller, where contacts between different cultures and traditions, even if notalways direct, are constant. For them, now more than ever, it is indispensableto learn the importance and the art of peaceful coexistence, mutual respect,dialogue and understanding. Young people by their nature are open to theseattitudes, but the social reality in which they grow up can lead them to thinkand act in the opposite way, even to be intolerant and violent. Only a solideducation of their consciences can protect them from these risks and make themcapable of carrying on the fight, depending always and solely on the power oftruth and good. This education begins in the family and is developed at schooland in other formative experiences. It is essentially about helping infants,children and adolescents to develop a personality that combines a profoundsense of justice with respect for their neighbour, with a capacity to addressconflicts without arrogance, with the inner strength to bear witness to good,even when it involves sacrifice, with forgiveness and reconciliation.
Thus they will be able to become people of peace andbuilders of peace.
"In thistask of educating young generations, a particular responsibility lies withreligious communities. Every pathway of authentic religious formation guidesthe person, from the most tender age, to know God, to love Him and to do Hiswill. God is love, He is just and peaceable, and anyone wishing to honour Himmust first of all act like a child following his father's example. ... In God,justice and mercy come together perfectly, as Jesus showed us through thetestimony of His life. ... Jesus is a way that can be travelled, open toeveryone. He is the path of peace. Today the Virgin Mary points Him out to us,she shows us the Way: let us walk in it!".
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