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General Audience Full Text: ‘Blessed are the Peacemakers’

Two Definitions of Peace

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This morning’s General Audience was held at 9:30 am from the Library of the Apostolic Vatican Palace.

Taking up the series of catecheses on the Beatitudes, in his address in Italian the Pope focused his meditation on the seventh: “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God” (Matthew 5:9).

After summarizing his catechesis in several languages, the Holy Father expressed special greetings to the faithful.

The General Audience ended with the recitation of the Pater Noster and the Apostolic Blessing.

* * *

The Holy Father’s Catechesis

 Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning!

Today’s catechesis is dedicated to the seventh Beatitude, that of the “peacemakers,” who are proclaimed sons of God. I rejoice that it happens immediately after Easter, because the peace of Christ is the fruit of his Death and Resurrection, as we heard in the Letter of Saint Paul.

To understand this Beatitude it’s necessary to explain the meaning of the word “peace,” which can be misunderstood or sometimes trivialized.  We must orient ourselves between two ideas of peace: the first is the biblical, where the beautiful word shalom appears, which expresses abundance, prosperity, and wellbeing. When in Hebrew one wishes shalom, one wishes a good life, full, prosperous but also in keeping with truth and justice, which will have fulfillment in the Messiah, Prince of Peace (Cf. Isaiah 9:6; Micah 5:4-5).

There is, then, the other meaning, more widespread, of the word “peace,” which is understood as a sort of inner tranquillity: I am tranquil, I am in peace. This is a modern idea, psychological and more suggestive. One thinks commonly that peace is quiet, harmony and internal balance. This meaning of the word “peace” is incomplete and can’t be absolutized, because in life restlessness can be an important moment of growth. Often it’s the Lord Himself who sows restlessness in us, to go to encounter Him, to meet Him. In this sense, it’s an important moment of growth; whereas, it can happen that interior tranquillity corresponds to a domesticated conscience and not to a true spiritual redemption. Many times the Lord must be a “sign of contradiction” (Cf. Luke 2:43-35), shaking our false securities, to lead us to salvation. And in that moment it seems there is no peace but it is the Lord who puts us on this way, to arrive at the peace that He Himself will give us.

At this point we must remember that the Lord understands His peace as different from human <peace>, from that of the world, when He says: ”Peace I leave you; my peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you” (John 14:27). Jesus’ peace is another peace, different from worldly peace. We ask ourselves: how does the world give peace? If we think of warlike conflicts — wars normally end in two ways: either the defeat of one of the sides or with peace treaties. We can only hope and pray that this second way is always entered into; however, we must consider that history is an infinite series of peace treaties refuted by successive wars, or by the metamorphosis of those same wars in other ways and in other places. In our time also, a piecemeal” war is being fought on more scenarios and in different ways.[1] We must at least suspect that in the framework of a globalization made up especially of economic and financial interests, the “peace” of some corresponds to the “war” of others.  And this isn’t Christ’s peace!

Instead, how does the Lord Jesus give His peace? We heard Saint Paul say that the peace of Christ is “to make of two, one” (Cf. Ephesians 2:14), to cancel enmity and reconcile. And the way to fulfill this work of peace is His body. In fact, He reconciles all things and puts peace with the Blood of His Cross, as the same Apostle says elsewhere (Cf. Colossians 1:20). And here I ask myself, we can all ask ourselves: who are, then, the “peacemakers”? The seventh Beatitude is the most active, explicitly operative. The verbal expression is analogous to that used in the first verse of the Bible for creation and it indicates initiative and laboriousness. By its nature love is creative — love is always creative — and seeks reconciliation at all cost. Those are called sons of God who have learned the art of peace and exercise it; they know that there is no reconciliation without giving one’s life, and that peace is always sought no matter what. Don’t forget this! It’s sought thus. This isn’t an autonomous work, fruit of one’s own capabilities; it’s a manifestation of grace received from Christ, who is our peace, who has rendered us sons of God.

True shalom and true interior balance flow from Christ’s peace, which comes from His Cross and generates a new humanity, embodied in an infinite array of men and women Saints, inventive, creative, who always thought of new ways to love –, the men and women Saints that make peace. This life of sons of God, which by the Blood of Christ our brothers seek and discover, is true happiness. Blessed are those that go on this way.

And again, happy Easter to all, in the peace of Christ!

[Original text: Italian]  [ZENIT’s translation by Virginia M. Forrester]

© Libreria Editrice Vatican


In Italian 

 I greet warmly the Italian-speaking faithful. I wish you all to live fully the Easter message, in fidelity to your Baptism and to be joyful witnesses of Christ, dead and risen for us.

Finally, I greet young people, the sick, the elderly and newlyweds. Dearests, I exhort you to look constantly at Jesus who has overcome death and who helps us to accept the sufferings and trials of life, as a precious occasion of redemption and salvation. May the Lord bless you and the Virgin Mary protect you!

[Original text: Italian]  [ZENIT’s translation by Virginia M. Forrester]

[1] Cf. Homily in the Military Shrine of Redipuglia, September 13, 2014; Homily at Sarajevo, June 6, 2015; Address to the Pontifical Council for the Interpretation of Legislative Texts, February 21, 2020.

© Libreria Editrice Vatican

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Virginia Forrester

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