VATICAN CITY, APRIL 7, 2002 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of John Paul II´s address today before reciting the Regina Caeli with pilgrims in St. Peter´s Square.
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Dear Brothers and Sisters!
1. “Peace be with you!” This is how Jesus greets his disciples in this Sunday´s Gospel page, which ends the Easter Octave. This greeting finds a particularly profound echo in our spirits at this time, given the worrying persistence of confrontations in the Holy Land. This is precisely the reason why I have asked the children of the Church to unite today in a unanimous and insistent imploration for peace.
Peace is a gift of God. The Creator himself has written the law of respect for life in men´s hearts. “If anyone sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed; for in the image of God has man been made,” Genesis says (9:6). When the merciless logic of arms prevails all around, only God can redirect hearts and thoughts toward peace. Only he can give the energies that are necessary to be freed from hatred and the thirst for vengeance and undertake the way of negotiation for peace as in the agreement.
How is it possible to forget that, following Abraham´s example, Israelis and Palestinians believe in the one God? To him, whom Jesus revealed as the merciful Father, is raised the joint prayer of Christians, who repeat with St. Francis of Assisi: “Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.”
At this time, my thoughts go especially to the Franciscan, Greek-Orthodox, and Orthodox Armenian communities that are living difficult hours in the Basilica of the Nativity. I assure everyone of my constant prayer.
2. Today´s liturgy invites us to see in Divine Mercy the source of that authentic peace that the risen Christ offers us. The wounds of the risen and glorious Lord are the permanent sign of God´s merciful love for humanity. From them flows a sort of spiritual light that illuminates consciences and infuses consolation and hope in hearts.
In this complicated and difficult hour we repeat “Jesus, I trust in you,” knowing that we are in need of that Divine Mercy that more than half a century ago the Lord generously manifested to St. Faustina Kowalska. Wherever trials and difficulties are harsher, may invocation of the Lord be more insistent, and imploration for the gift of the Holy Spirit, source of love and peace, be more heartfelt.
3. Let us entrust our prayer to Mary, whom we will remember in a special way tomorrow, on the liturgical feast of the Annunciation of the Lord. The mystery of Jesus´ conception in the Virgin´s womb by the power of the Holy Spirit, reminds us that human life, assumed by Christ, is inviolable from the first instant. Contemplation of the mystery leads us to renew the commitment to love, accept, and serve life. A commitment that unites believers and non-believers, because “the defense and promotion of life are not the monopoly of any one, but the task and responsibility of all.”
May the Virgin, Mother of Mercy, who at the Angel´s annunciation conceived the incarnate Word, help us to respect life always and to unanimously promote peace.
[Translation by ZENIT]