* * *
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Happy New Year to all! On this first day of 2013 I would like extend God's blessing to every man and every woman in the world. I do so with the ancient formula contained in Sacred Scripture: "The Lord bless you and keep you. The Lord make his face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you. The Lord turn his face to you and give you peace "(Num. 6:24-26).
Just as the Sun's light and the warmth are a blessing for the Earth, so the light of God is a blessing for humanity, when He makes his face shine on it. This happened with the birth of Jesus Christ! God has made his face shine on us: at the beginning in a very humble, hidden way - in Bethlehem, only Mary and Joseph and some shepherds were witnesses to this revelation - but little by little, like the sun that rises from dawn until noon, the light of Christ has grown and spread everywhere. Already in the short time of his earthly life, Jesus of Nazareth caused the face of God to shine on the Holy Land; and then, through the Church animated by his Spirit, he extended to all peoples the Gospel of peace. "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those whom he favors" (Lk 2:14). This is the song of the angels at Christmas, and the song of the Christians in every time, a song that from the hearts and lips passes into concrete actions, actions of love that build dialogue, understanding and reconciliation.
For this, eight days after Christmas, when the Church, like the Virgin Mother Mary, show the world the infant Jesus, the Prince of Peace, we celebrate the World Day of Peace. Yes, that Child, who is the Word of God made flesh, came to give men a peace which the world cannot give (cf. Jn 14:27). His mission is to break down the "dividing wall of hostility" (Eph 2:14). And when, on the shores of the Sea of Galilee, He proclaims his "Beatitudes", among them there is also "blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God" (Mt 5:9). Who are the peacemakers? They are all those who, day by day, try to overcome evil with good, with the power of truth, with the weapons of prayer and forgiveness, with honest work well done, with scientific research at the service of life, with the spiritual and corporal works of mercy. The peacemakers are many, but they do not make noise. Like leaven in the dough, they make humanity grow according to God's plan.
In this first Angelus of the New Year, we ask the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God, to bless us, like a mother blesses her children who depart on a journey. A new year is like a journey: with the light and grace of God, may it be a path to peace for every person and every family, for each country and for the whole world.
[After the Angelus, the Holy Father addressed the pilgrims]
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
I extend to you all the most cordial good wishes for the new year: may it truly be a good year, and it will be if we accept within us and among us, the love that Christ has given us. With gratitude I express my best wishes to the President of the Italian Republic and the entire nation, as well as to other authorities who have sent me greetings.
I renew my affectionate greeting to the young people who came to Rome for the European meeting of the Taizé Community. I express my spiritual closeness to the ecclesial initiatives at the World Day of Peace: I am thinking, in particular, of the national march which took place last night in Lecce, as well as that of this morning here in Rome, animated by the Community of St. Egidio. I greet the members of the Family Love Movement who last night kept vigil in prayer in St. Peter's Square, as well as in Milan and Aquila. To all I repeat the words of Jesus: "Blessed are the peacemakers"!
[I am pleased to greet all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors present today for this prayer. Today, New Year’s Day, we celebrate the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God. With affectionate trust, Our Lady believed the message revealed to her by the angel’s word and bore Jesus Christ, true God and true man. May her powerful intercession bring you a happy and prosperous New Year!]
Finally, I greet all the Italian-speaking pilgrims: the church groups, the families, the young people, particularly the youth of the Student Youth Movement of Liguria. I wish you all an abundance of peace and happiness for every day of the New Year!
[Translation by Peter Waymel]