Catholic Prayers for the New Evangelization

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Sunday, September 24, 2006

Homily Twenty-Fifth Sunday of the Year 24 September 2006

A few years ago…
The United Nations sponsored a project called "The Peace Poem."
Students from every elementary, middle school, and high school in the world were invited to submit a few lines of poetry about peace.
Students in schools in 38 countries participated.
Once all the entries were collected
they were compiled into one long poem of peace.
The poem is available online…simply Google "peace poem."

Some of the submissions from the school children are cute…
some are simple…
and others are quite inspiring.
A child in Rhode Island wrote:
"As I look around the world, I sigh,
and think, We could at least give peace a try."
A student in Perth, Australia, wrote:
"Toys and green goblins, and big yellow ice creams,
not bombs that extinguish our hopes and dreams."
A girl in south Africa wrote:
"Peace is like an African jungle –
it takes years to grow and seconds to destroy."

The different lines of poetry come from children throughout the world…
children of every race and state in life…
and they together proclaim a beautiful message of peace and hope
for our troubled world.

Today, we know all too well the pain of war…
There is sorrow in the hearts of many
who mourn the loss of their sons and daughters, brothers and sisters…
who gave their lives valiantly in service to our country.
Our world suffers because people have turned to violence
as the answer to their problems.

There are also those people, in our world today,
who…sadly…have embraced violence in the name of religion.
As I am sure you all have heard…
at a speech last week at the University of Regensburg, in Germany,
the Holy Father used a quote from a medieval Byzantine Emperor,
which offended many followers of Islam throughout the world.
As the Pope himself, and Vatican officials, have explained several times…
this quote was used to illustrate one point in his speech,
and it did not reflect the Pope’s personal beliefs.

The essential argument of the Pope, which was missed by most people…
is found in the following paragraph:
"Violence is incompatible with the nature of God, and the nature of the soul. God is not pleased by blood, and not acting reasonably…is contrary to God’s nature… To convince a reasonable soul, one does not need a strong arm, or weapons of any kind…"
In other words, violence has no place in religion.
Faith is not spread by the sword but by words spoken eloquently…in love.
Those who profess faith in the one God are called to be peacemakers,
not lovers of violence.

The Pope has said that he is "deeply saddened"
by the reaction to the misunderstood quote in his speech.
The reaction has truly been heartbreaking.
The Pope is burned in effigy.
A nun was killed in Somalia…over what the Pope was accused of saying.

Violence and war have sadly become all too commonplace.
It is routine now to hear on the news
a few stories about roadside bombs…insurgents…and extremists.
And the effects are no longer felt only by those in far away places.
Violence is real for us.
Our children are growing up in a time of fear…
when shoes and shampoo bottles can be used as weapons.

The violence of this war on terror is often linked to the Muslim religion.
We must remember that there are in fact many people who practice Islam,
who are law-abiding, peaceful people.
They should not be caught up in all the hatred…
and unfairly treated because of their peaceful life and their faith.

This morning, the Apostle James speaks to us a very clear message:
Disordered passion, jealousy, envy and selfish interests…
lead to disorder, violence, and war between people.
This is true in the wars between nations…
and in the battles in our own homes.
Whenever we look out only for ourselves…
whenever a leader or a nation seeks only to serve selfish interests…
evil results are soon to follow.

God calls us to a much higher way of living.
He calls us to seek the wisdom from above…which is
"pure, peaceable, gentle, compliant, full of mercy
and good fruits, without inconstancy or insincerity."
God calls us to seek peace.

Of course, we are not diplomats or military strategists.
We cannot solve all the world’s problems and bring peace to every land.
But that doesn’t mean there is nothing we can do.
Our task is twofold:
to pray for peace in the world…
and to work for peace in our own homes and hearts.

Don’t think for a moment that prayer is not enough
in the face of all the trouble we see in the world.
Prayer is in face the most powerful weapon we have…
for in prayer we are filled with the strength of God’s grace…
which is far more powerful than and merely human efforts.
We must pray for peace in the world and an end to war…
for all our service men and women…
for the safety of the Pope and all who work for peace.

And peace must begin with us…
with the way we live…
and the lessons we pass on to others, especially our children.
We must live in peace, love, and charity, if we expect others to live that way.
This means seeking the interests of others, and not only our own.

The children who together wrote the Peace Poem understood peace…
even if it was in a very simple…innocent way.
May we embrace their message of peace…
as Jesus embraced the little innocent child in today’s Gospel.

This morning we approach to receive the Eucharist…
the Body and Blood of Jesus, the Prince of Peace.
The Fathers of the early Church referred to the Eucharist as "peace."
When we give the sign of peace at Mass…we anticipate the Eucharist…
the true peace.
Peace is a person…Jesus Christ…whom we receive in the Eucharist.
With that peace within us…
we can go forth to live lives of peace, to extend peace to the world…
and commit ourselves to constant prayer for peace.

May peace reign in our hearts…
and in the hearts of all people…
now and always.

1 comment:

Denise said...

This message couldn't have come at a better time.

Blessings,
Denise