We must cultivate peace daily, with our own hands, so that it spreads to the rest of our suffering world.
According to Vatican Radio, Pope Francis gave this encouragement to faithful during his daily morning Mass at Casa Santa Marta, as he reflected on the three images of the dove, rainbow, and the Covenant, present in the day’s First Reading from the Book of Genesis, in which Noah releases a dove after the flood.
The dove, which returns with an olive branch, the Pontiff said, is “a sign of what God desired after the flood: peace, that is, that all would live in peace.”
To demonstrate their fragility, Francis observed that the rainbow is beautiful after a storm, “but then a cloud comes and it disappears.”
Turning to doves, Francis recalled when, two years ago, at his Sunday Angelus, a seagull swooped in and killed the two doves he and two children had just released from a window of the Apostolic Palace.
Covenant Requires Daily Commitment
The Covenant which God makes is strong, the Jesuit Pontiff said, admitting, we accept it in weakness. While God makes peace with us, it is not easy to care for peace, Francis said.
“It is a daily task, because within each of us is that seed of original sin, that is, the spirit of Cain which – for envy, jealousy, greed, and the desire to dominate – leads to war.”
The Holy Father observed that, when speaking of the Covenant between God and humanity, reference is made to “blood.”
“In today’s world,” the Pope decried, “there is blood being spilt. Today the world is at war. Many brothers and sisters are dying, even innocent people, because the great and powerful want a larger slice of the earth; they want a little more power, or they want to make a little more money on arms trafficking.
And the Word of the Lord, the Holy Father said, is clear: ‘For your own lifeblood, that is of your life, I will demand an accounting: from every animal I will demand it, and from one man in regard to his fellow man.’
“Even of us –it seems peaceful here – the Lord will demand an accounting of the blood of our brothers and sisters who are suffering war.”
All Begins Inside Us
“War begins in here [in the heart, inside the person] and finishes out there,” Francis said. “The news we see in the papers or on television… Today so many people die, and that seed of war, which breeds envy, jealousy, and greed in my heart, is the same – grown up, become a tree – as the bomb which falls on a hospital, on a school, and kills children. It is the same. The declaration of war begins in here, in each of us.
For this reason, he noted, the following question arises: ‘How do I care for peace in my heart, in my interior, and in my family?’.
The Pope’s answer is: “Care for peace; not only care for it, but make it with your hands every day. Just so, will we succeed in spreading it throughout the whole world.”
Pope Francis went on to recall an anecdote from his childhood about peace.
“As I recall, the alarm at the Fire Brigade began to sound, and then those on the television … This usually happened to draw attention to a tragedy or something else. And immediately I heard our neighbor call my mother: ‘Mrs. Regina, come here, come here, come here!’ My mother went out a little afraid: ‘What’s happened?” And the lady from the other side of the garden told her: ‘The war is over!’ and she cried.”
Recalling the hug the two women shared, along with their cries and joy because the war had ended, Pope Francis prayed, “May the Lord give us the grace to say: ‘War is finished, crying. War is finished in my heart; war is finished in my family; war is finished in my neighborhood; war is finished in my workplace; war is finished in the world.”
“In this way shall the dove, rainbow, and Covenant be strengthened.”