Pope Calls Peacemakers to Readiness for Martyrdom

Homily at Assisi Vigil Notes Christ’s Method for Bringing Peace

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VATICAN CITY, OCT. 26, 2011 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI says that extending Christ’s kingdom of peace means being ready to suffer and to lose one’s life in martyrdom.

The Pope offered this reflection today at a liturgy to prepare for Thursday’s Day of Reflection, Dialogue and Prayer for Peace and Justice in the World, an event that will gather leaders of the world’s religions as well as non-believers in Assisi to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the first such celebration convoked by Blessed John Paul II.

Due to rain, the liturgy was held in Paul VI Hall, and it replaced the customary general audience the Holy Father has on Wednesdays.

The Pontiff drew from the ninth chapter of the Prophet Zechariah for his homily, noting the prophecy that a king would come who would bring peace.

This king, he explained, is Jesus, «the poor king among the poor, meek among those who desire to be meek. In this way, he is the king of peace, thanks to the power of God, which is the power of good, the power of love.»

«He is a king,» the Pope said, «who causes the chariots and charioteers of battle to disappear, who will shatter the bows of war; he is a king who will bring peace to fulfillment on the cross by joining heaven and earth, and by throwing a bridge of brotherhood between all peoples. The cross is the new bow of peace, the sign and instrument of reconciliation, of forgiveness, of understanding, a sign of the love that is stronger than all violence and oppression, stronger than death: Evil is conquered with good, with love.»

And to participate in extending this kingdom, the Holy Father continued, Christians have to resist the temptation «to become wolves in the midst of wolves.»

«It is not with power, with force or with violence that Christ’s kingdom of peace is extended, but with the gift of self, with love taken to the extreme, even toward our enemies,» he declared. «Jesus does not conquer the world with the strength of armies, but with the strength of the cross, which is victory’s true guarantee. Consequently, for the one who desires to be the Lord’s disciple — his messenger — this means being ready for suffering and martyrdom, being ready to lose one’s life for him, so that good, love and peace may triumph in the world. This is the condition for being able to say, upon entering into any circumstance: ‘Peace be to this house!’ (Luke 10:5).»


Benedict XVI spoke of the statue of St. Paul in front of St. Peter’s Basilica in which the Apostle holds a sword: «One who is unfamiliar with the story (…) might think he is a great captain who commanded powerful armies and subjected peoples and nations with the sword, procuring for himself fame and riches by others’ blood. Instead it is exactly the opposite: The sword he holds is the instrument with which Paul was put to death, with which he underwent martyrdom and shed his own blood.»

The Pope reflected that St. Paul’s sword also «recalls the power of truth, which can often wound, can hurt.»

And just as St. Paul suffered for the truth, giving his life for it, «this same logic holds true also for us if we want to be bearers of the kingdom and peace announced by the Prophet Zechariah and fulfilled by Christ,» he said. «We must be willing to pay personally, to suffer in the first person misunderstanding, rejection, persecution.»

«It is not the sword of the conqueror that builds peace,» the Pope affirmed, «but the sword of the sufferer, of he who knows how to give his very life.»

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Full text: www.zenit.org/article-33735?l=english

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