Rome, 1 January 2019
Once again, we meet on the edge of time: the old year goes away and a new one comes. Not everything in our lives happens at once, at the same time, immediately. We need a rhythm of events. Every year gives us this rhythm, which makes order in our life, purifies us and allows us to touch real life.
Mother of God mosaic icon in the Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Philadelphia
MESSAGE OF HIS HOLINESS POPE
FOR THE CELEBRATION OF THE
52nd WORLD DAY OF PEACE
1 JANUARY 2019
Good politics is at the service of peace
1. “Peace be to this house!”
In sending his disciples forth on mission, Jesus told them: “Whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace be to this house!’ And if a son of peace is there, your peace shall rest upon him; but if not, it shall return to you” (Lk 10:5-6).
Bringing peace is central to the mission of Christ’s disciples. That peace is offered to all those men and women who long for peace amid the tragedies and violence that mark human history.The “house” of which Jesus speaks is every family, community, country and continent, in all their diversity and history. It is first and foremost each individual person, without distinction or discrimination. But it is also our “common home”: the world in which God has placed us and which we are called to care for and cultivate.
So let this be my greeting at the beginning of the New Year: “Peace be to this house!”
1 John 2:18-21; John 1:1-18
1. He Came to His Own: Our God came looking for us. “It is not that we have loved God, but that he has first loved us” (Cf. 1 John 4:10). What is it that so attracts God to us? The Bible uses images of the love of a spouse or a parent to help us understand how deeply God desires to make us his own. He knows that this is where our true happiness lies. Often, he looks for man in mysterious ways, but in Jesus Christ he plainly shows himself and his desire to be with us. Do I appreciate the gift of the Incarnation? Do I understand a bit better each day how humbly and powerfully God looks for my love?
William Holman Hunt - The finding of the Saviour in the temple
1Samuel 1:20-22, 24-28
1 John 3:1-2, 21-24
What should it feel like to live a good family life?
The gospel provides us with an answer that is probably quite surprising. For it’s likely that we may think of life in a good family as being one that’s free from tension. As being more or less plain sailing all the way. And yet, tension is precisely what we find in the gospel. Here both Jesus and his earthly parents struggle to negotiate the tension between the obligations of the immediate family and those of the family of God. As the son of Mary and Joseph, Jesus really should have informed them of his intention to remain in the Temple.
1 John 2:3-11; Luke 2:22-35
Whoever says he is in the light, yet hates his brother, is still in the darkness. 1 John 2
The parents of Jesus took him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord,
just as it is written in the law of the Lord. Luke 2
We are just four days after Christmas and the first reading challenges us. Who among us, in our experience of Christmas, didn't have some difficult experience with someone? It is almost inevitable each year that Christmas time can become a very stressful time. Christmas often gathers us with family and friends. Sometimes the most difficult relationships of our lives come together. Alcohol - intended as a traditional holiday element to add "cheer" - can make everything much worse. A word was said meanly. An old wound was re-opened. Someone was going through a hard time and was coping very badly. I re-discover how much someone really drives me crazy. As a result, I can understand the challenge of the First Letter of John: I want to be in the Light that is Jesus, but at the same time, there is somebody that I really hate or really resent or simply can't stand to be around, and that places me still in the darkness.
1 John 1:5—2:2; Matthew 2:13-18
‘A voice was heard in Ramah,
wailing and loud lamentation,
Rachel weeping for her children;
she refused to be consoled, because they are no more.’
“Herod!” says the Office of Readings, “you slay those little ones because fear in your heart slays you.” It was a penetrating psychological insight from an early Christian writer. Aggression is a manifestation of fear. But how is it that it looks just the opposite of fear? Why, because it is the repression of fear. If a person has not faced his own fear he will project it onto others and fight it there. If he hasn’t fought the war within he will fight it without. And of course (because it is all about fear) he will pick the easiest target. Even school children discover it: deep down, bullies are cowards.
1 John 1:1-4
Psalm 97:1-2, 5-6, 11-12
John 20:1a, 2-8
In the celebration of today's feast of St. John the Evangelist we read John's own account of the visit that he and St. Peter made to the tomb of Jesus on Easter morning. These words of St. John are appropriate for his feast day because they tell us a lot about him. St. John is presented as a very perceptive person who had listened carefully to the words and teaching of Jesus and had become a faithful follower of the Lord. This whole section of his gospel reveals St. John in a very favorable light. I find him an attractive person whom I would like to imitate in his faithfulness and devotion to Jesus.
'You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.' Mt 16:16
We believe and confess that Jesus of Nazareth, born a Jew of a daughter of Israel at Bethlehem at the time of King Herod the Great and the emperor Caesar Augustus, a carpenter by trade, who died crucified in Jerusalem under the procurator Pontius Pilate during the reign of the emperor Tiberius,
Is the eternal Son of God made man.
He 'came from God', (Jn13:3) descended from heaven', (Jn 3:13, 6:33), and 'came in the flesh'. (1 Jn 4:2). For 'the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth; we have beheld his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father. . . and from his fullness have we all received, grace upon grace.' (Jn 1:14,16). Moved by the grace of the Holy Spirit and drawn by the Father, we believe in Jesus and confess:
'You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.' Mt 16:16
(Catechism of the Catholic Church, 423-424)
Acts 6:8-10.7:54-59; Matthew 10:17-22
The day before yesterday, in the evening, and yesterday we celebrated Christmas, the feast of Jesus' birth. We contemplated the little child in the crib, sung "silent night", heard the tidings of peace for the world. And suddenly today, in stark contrast, we are clothed in blood-red vestments, we hear of the bloody death of Stephen, and of Jesus' warnings of persecution, death, and hatred for his name's sake. Is there a connection between Christmas and the martyr Stephen? How are we to understand this? Does it mean we shouldn't take the beauty and the peace of Christmas too seriously? It is a nice story, but the reality is different…?
Luke 2:1-14; Luke 2:15-20; John 1:1-18
I thought it would be interesting to try to say something at least about all three Christmas gospels. We begin with Midnight Mass, and the story of the birth of Jesus in the stable in Bethlehem, told in a very matter-of-fact way: St Luke at his pithiest. There is a striking contrast, in fact, between the humble ordinariness of Christ's birth and the dramatic scene when the angel of the Lord, and the whole heavenly host, appear to the shepherds in the nearby countryside.