ANGELUS: 1 November
“Peace must be built, and like any construction, it requires effort, collaboration, patience”, Pope Francis said to the many faithful gathered in Saint Peter’s Square for the Angelus on All Saints’ Day, Tuesday, 1 November. Peace, he explained, “grows in silence, day after day, through works of justice and mercy, as the luminous witnesses we are celebrating today show us”. The following is a translation of the Holy Father’s reflection, which he shared in Italian.
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Happy feast day,
Today, we celebrate all the saints, and we might have a misleading impression. We might think we are celebrating those sisters and brothers who were perfect in life, always straight, precise, or rather “starched”. Instead, today’s Gospel belies this stereotypical view, this “picture-perfect holiness”. In fact, Jesus’ Beatitudes (cf. Mt 5:1-12), which are the identity card of the saints, show the complete opposite: they speak of a life that goes against the grain, a revolutionary life! Saints are the true revolutionaries.
Let us take, for example, a very topical beatitude: “Blessed are the peacemakers” (v. 9), and we see how Jesus’ peace is very different from what we imagine. We all long for peace, but often what we want is not really peace, it is to be at peace, to be left in peace, to have no problems but rather tranquillity. Jesus, instead, does not call the calm blessed, those who are in peace, but those who make peace and strive to make peace, the builders, the peacemakers. Indeed, peace must be built, and like any construction, it requires effort, collaboration, patience. We would like peace to rain down from above, but instead the Bible speaks of a “sowing of peace” (Zc 8:12), because it germinates from the soil of life, from the seed of our heart. It grows in silence, day after day, through works of justice and mercy, as the luminous witnesses we are celebrating today show us. Again, we are led to believe that peace comes by force and power: for Jesus it is the opposite. His life and that of the saints tell us that, in order to grow and bear fruit, the seed of peace must first die. Peace is not achieved by conquering or defeating someone, it is never violent, it is never armed. I was watching on the television programme, “A Sua Immagine” (“In His Image”) — many saints who have fought, have made peace, but through work, giving their own lives, offering their lives.
How then does one become a peacemaker? First of all, one must disarm the heart. Yes, because we are all equipped with aggressive thoughts against each other, and cutting words, and we think to defend ourselves with the barbed wire of complaints and concrete walls of indifference, and between complaints and indifference we defend ourselves, but this is not peace, it is war. The seed of peace calls for the demilitarization of the field of the heart. How is your heart? Is it demilitarized or is it like that, with those things, with complaints and indifference, with aggression? And how does one demilitarize the heart? By opening ourselves to Jesus, who is “our peace” (Eph 2:14); by standing before his Cross, which is the See of peace; by receiving “forgiveness and peace” from him in Confession. This is where we begin, because being peacemakers, being saints, is not our own ability, it is a gift from him, it is grace.
Brothers and sisters, let us look within and ask ourselves: are we peacemakers? In the places where we live, study and work, do we bring tension, words that hurt, gossip that poisons, controversy that divides? Or do we open up the way to peace, forgiving those who have offended us? Do we care for those who are on the margins, do we redress some injustice by helping those who have less? This is called building peace.
A final question may arise, however, which applies to every beatitude: is it worth living this way? Is it not losing out? It is Jesus who gives us the answer: the peacemakers “shall be called sons of God” (Mt 5:9): in the world they seem out of place, because they do not yield to the logic of power and prevailing, in Heaven they will be the closest to God, the most like him. But, in reality, even here those who abuse their power remain empty-handed, while those who love everyone and hurt no one, win: as the Psalm says, “there is posterity for the man of peace” (Ps 37:37).
May the Virgin Mary, Queen of all saints, help us to be peacemakers in our daily lives.
After the Angelus, the Pope continued:
The day after tomorrow I will leave for an Apostolic Journey to the Kingdom of Bahrain, where I will stay until Sunday. Already now, I would like to greet and give heartfelt thanks to the King, the Authorities, the brothers and sisters in faith, and the entire population of the country, especially those who, for some time, have been working to prepare this visit. It will be a Journey in the name of dialogue: indeed, I will participate in a Forum on the theme of the indispensable need for the East and West to move closer together for the good of human coexistence. I will have the opportunity to speak with religious representatives, particularly Islamic. I ask you all to accompany me with prayer, so that every meeting and event may be a fruitful occasion to support, in God’s name, the cause of fraternity and peace, of which our times are in extreme and urgent need.
I affectionately greet you all, people of Rome and pilgrims from Italy and various countries. In particular, I greet the faithful of Setúbal, in Portugal, and the teenagers making their profession of faith from Cassina de’ Pecchi, Diocese of Milan.
I am happy to welcome the participants in the Corsa dei Santi (Race of Saints), organized by the “Don Bosco Missions” Foundation to live the commemoration of All Saints in a dimension of popular celebration. Thank you for your beautiful initiative and for your presence!
Dear brothers and sisters, please, let us not forget martyred Ukraine: let us pray for peace, let us pray that there may be peace in Ukraine.
Tomorrow is dedicated to the commemoration of all the deceased faithful. Besides the traditional visit to the tombs of our loved ones, I invite you to remember them in prayers of suffrage, especially during Holy Mass.
I wish you all a good feast day. And please, do not forget to pray for me. Enjoy your lunch. Arrivederci!