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January 1, 2004

Happy New Year

(Luke 2:16-21)

Happy New Year everyone! I hope and pray that this new year holds many blessings for you, that it is a time of grace and healing and light and peace for you and your families and the whole world, that we might all turn back again to God and follow Jesus ever more faithfully.

Pope John Paul II has declared New Year’s Day to be World Peace Day, and every year he writes a long letter to the world, and I would like to offer an excerpt of his message:

“All of you, hear the humble appeal of one who cries out: today at the beginning of the new year, peace remains possible. And if peace is possible, it is also a duty. Humanity needs now more than ever to rediscover the path of concord, overwhelmed as it is by selfishness and hatred, by the thirst for power and the lust for vengeance.”

“We Christians see the commitment to educate ourselves and others to peace as something at the very heart of our religion. For Christians, in fact, to proclaim peace is to announce Christ who is our peace. It is to announce his Gospel, which is a Gospel of peace. It is to call all people to the beatitude of being ‘peacemakers.’ [As we read in the Gospel,] ‘Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the sons and daughters of God.’ How could this saying, which is a summons to work in the immense field of peace, find such a powerful echo in the human heart if it did not correspond to an irrepressible yearning and hope dwelling within us? And why else would peacemakers be called children of God, if not because God is by nature the God of peace?”

“[Therefore,] love must enliven every sector of human life and extend to the international order. Only a ‘civilization of love’ will be able to enjoy authentic and lasting peace. Love conquers all. Yes, dear brothers and sisters throughout the world, in the end, love will be victorious! Let everyone be committed to hastening this victory of love. For it is the deepest hope of every human heart.”

I think his statement is beautiful, powerful and helpful, encouraging the world to reject war and violence and hasten the victory of love by joining in the work and duty of peace.

My hope and prayer is that we can all turn back to God and move from darkness to light, from war to peace, from hate to love, from doubt to faith, from despair to hope, and from sadness to joy and welcome God’s reign of love, nonviolence and peace on earth. Happy New Year!


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