Address to the Cardinals, Papal household and Roman Curia for Christmas – December 21, 2002
On this occasion, in reviewing, as is our custom, the principal events that have marked my ministry in recent months, I would like to do so in the perspective which the Rosary suggests: with a contemplative gaze that brings to the fore the sign of Christ’s presence in the events themselves. In this sense, in the Apostolic Letter Rosarium Virginis Mariae, I underlined the anthropological significance of this prayer (cf n. 25); by training us to contemplate Christ, it guides us to see humanity and history in the light of his Gospel.
How can we forget, first of all, that the face of Christ continues to have a truly passionate, sorrowful expression because of the conflicts that are bathing so many regions of the world in blood, or threatening to break out with new virulence? The situation of the Holy Land continues to be emblematic, but other “forgotten” wars are equally devastating. Then terrorism continues to reap victims and to widen breaches.
In the face of this panorama streaked with blood, the Church does not cease to make her voice heard and, above all, she continues to raise her prayer.
Homily – Midnight Mass – Christmas, December 24, 2002
The Child laid in a lowly manger: this is God’s sign. The centuries and the millennia pass, but the sign remains, and it remains valid for us too–the men and women of the third millennium. It is a sign of hope for the whole human family; a sign of peace for those suffering from conflicts of every kind; a sign of freedom for the poor and oppressed; a sign of mercy for those caught up in the vicious circle of sin; a sign of love and consolation for those who feel lonely and abandoned.
A small and fragile sign, a humble and quiet sign, but one filled with the power of God who out of love became man.
Urbi et orbi message – Christmas 2002
In the cold stable, wrapped in silence, the Virgin Mother, with prophetic intuition, already tastes the violent drama of Calvary, the traumatic struggle between darkness and light, between death and life, between hatred and love. The Prince of Peace, born today in Bethlehem, will give his life on Golgotha, so that love may reign on earth. Christmas is a mystery of peace!
From the cave of Bethlehem there rises today an urgent appeal to the world not to yield to mistrust, suspicion and discouragement, even though the tragic reality of terrorism feeds uncertainties and fears.
Believers of all religions, together with men and women of good will, by outlawing all forms of intolerance and discrimination, are called to build peace: in the Holy Land, above all, to put an end once and for all to the senseless spiral of blind violence, and in the Middle East, to extinguish the ominous smoldering of a conflict which, with the joint efforts of all, can be avoided; in Africa too, where devastating famines and tragic internal conflicts are aggravating the already precarious conditions of entire peoples, although here and there signs of hope are present; in Latin America, in Asia, in other parts of the world, where political, economic and social crises disturb the serenity of many families and nations.
May humanity accept the Christmas message of peace!
Adorable mystery of the Incarnate Word! Together with you, O Virgin Mother, may we stop and reflect at the manger where the Child lies, to share your own amazement at the immense “condescension” of God.
Grant us your own eyes, O Mary, that we may understand the mystery hidden within the frail limbs of your Son. Teach us to recognize his face in the children of every race and culture. Help us to be credible witnesses of his message of peace and love, so that the men and women of our own time, still torn by conflicts and unspeakable violence, may also recognize in the Child cradled in your arms the one Saviour of the world, the endless source of that true peace for which every heart profoundly yearns.
Homily Te Deum and First Vespers of the solemnity of Mary, Mother of God – Tuesday, December 31, 2002
Time, beginning with creation, reaches its fullness when it is “visited” by God in the Person of the Only-Begotten Son. At the moment when Jesus is born in Bethlehem, an event of incalculable importance in the history of salvation, God’s goodness acquires a visible, tangible “face” (cf Ti 3:4).
“Fiat misericordia tua, Domine, super nos, quemadmodum speravimus in Te–May your mercy always be upon us, Lord, as we have hoped in you.”
Your mercy, Lord! In this liturgy at the end of the year, praise and thanksgiving should be joined to a sincere examination of conscience, made individually and as a community. Let us ask the Lord’s pardon for the shortcomings of which we are guilty, certain that God, who is rich in mercy, is infinitely greater than our sins.
“In you we have hoped.” “In you Lord” we repeat this evening, “is our hope.” At Christmas you brought joy to the world, making shine on the paths of persons and peoples your light. Anxieties and worries cannot put it out; the brightness of your presence is a constant comfort.
May every man and woman of good will approach and experience the power of your love and your peace!
Homily Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God – 36th World Day of Peace – January 1, 2003
“The Lord bless you and keep you.” In the face of the events that unsettle the planet, it is very clear that only God can touch the depths of the human soul; his peace alone can restore hope to humanity. We need him to turn his face toward us, to bless us, to protect us and give us his peace.
For this reason, we must begin the new year by asking him for this precious gift. Let us do so through the intercession of Mary, Mother of the “Prince of Peace.”
When Pacem in terris was written, there were menacing clouds on the horizon and the nightmare of an atomic war hung over humanity.
My venerable Predecessor, whom I had the joy of raising to the honours of the altar, was not overcome by the temptation to discouragement. On the contrary, relying on his firm confidence in God and on the capacity of the human heart, he forcefully pointed out “truth, justice, love and freedom” as the “four pillars” on which to build a lasting peace (cf Message for World Day of Peace, January 1, 2003, n. 3).
His teaching remains timeless. Today, as then, despite the serious, repeated attacks on the peaceful, solidary harmony of peoples, peace is possible and necessary. Indeed, peace is the most precious good to ask of God and to build with every effort, by means of concrete gestures of peace on the part of every man and woman of good will (cf ibid., n. 9).
Faced with today’s conflicts and the threatening tensions of the moment, once again I ask you to pray to find the “peaceful means” for a solution inspired by “a desire for genuine and constructive dialogue,” in harmony with the principles of international law (cf ibid., n. 8).
“God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law ... so that we might receive adoption as sons” (Gal 4:4,5). In the fullness of time, St Paul recalls, God sent into the world a Savior, born of a woman. Thus the new year opens under the sign of a woman, under the sign of a mother: Mary.
May Mary help us discover the face of Jesus, Prince of Peace. May she support and accompany us in this new year; may she obtain for us and for the whole world the desired gift of peace! So be it!
Angelus January 1, 2003
Only from the Lord can the world expect salvation. Only Christ knows the depths of the human heart: by receiving the power of his grace, each one can fully realize himself.
Supported by this consciousness, believers do not lose hope, despite the growing number of obstacles to, and attacks on peace. Forty years ago, in a moment of serious threat to world security, with great courage, Bl John XXIII published the Encyclical Pacem in terris.
I wished to refer to this significant event in the Message for today’s World Day of Peace. So today I ask each person to make his/her contribution to foster and bring about peace, through generous choices of reciprocal understanding, reconciliation, forgiveness and concrete attention to those in need. Concrete “gestures of peace” are necessary in families, in the work place, in communities, in civil life as a whole, in national and international public gatherings. Above all, we must never stop praying for peace.
How can we not express once more the wish that world leaders do everything in their power to find peaceful solutions to the many tensions present in the world, especially in the Middle East, avoiding further suffering for those peoples who have been so sorely tried? May human solidarity and law prevail!
Dear brothers and sisters, let us entrust this unceasing plea to Mary, whom we venerate today with the wonderful title of “Mother of God,” the Theotokos. Chosen to be the Mother of our Savior, at the foot of the Cross she became the Mother of every human being.
May she obtain for us a serene and profitable year in which people may accomplish many “gestures of peace” that always assume a prophetic character, that is, the humility of one who works unobtrusively to proclaim the great ideal of peace (cf Message for the World Day of Peace, January 1, 2003, n. 9).
Angelus January 5, 2003
The tragedy is that Christ, the Light of the world, is unknown to many, by others he is not accepted or even rejected. In our society, unfortunately there is a widespread culture imbued with selfishness and closed to the knowledge and love of God. This culture, by refusing de facto a sound reference to divine transcendence, gives rise to confusion, dissatisfaction, indifference, loneliness, hatred and violence. How urgent it is then to offer a joyful witness to the one message of salvation, ancient and ever new, of the Gospel of life and light, of hope and love!
May Mary, Star of evangelization whom we call upon with confidence, always sustain us so that we may remain faithful to our Christian vocation and achieve the aspirations of justice and peace which we feel so strongly at the beginning of this new year.
Address to the Cardinals, Papal household and Roman Curia for Christmas – December 21, 2002