If you heard Pope Francis’ homily Sept. 7 during the day of fasting and prayer for peace, you know it was nothing less than remarkable. His words were passionate, but gentle — a mix of a strong charge with a heartfelt plea.
Through his speech, Pope Francis showed the world how we are to act in the face of war. Not just Catholics or Christians, but all people of goodwill who are striving to live out Jesus’ call for peace. Here are my top five takeaways:
1. God created the world to be one family.
When God, in the Book of Genesis, created the world as a good place, Pope Francis said the world became the “‘house of harmony and peace,’” and “the space in which everyone is able to find their proper place and feel ‘at home,’ because it is ‘good.’ ...
“Above all,” he said, “humanity, made in the image and likeness of God, is one family.”
2. Selfishness leads to ruin.
Referring to the Fall of Adam and Eve, Pope Francis said “violence, division, disagreement, war” take place when man gives into selfishness.
“When man thinks only of himself, of his own interests and places himself in the center, when he permits himself to be captivated by the idols of dominion and power, when he puts himself in God’s place, then all relationships are broken and everything is ruined,” the pope said.
3. Unlike Cain and Abel, we must be our brother’s keeper.
“To be human means to care for one another,” Pope Francis said. “We bring about the rebirth of Cain in every act of violence and in every war. … We have perfected our weapons, our conscience has fallen asleep, and we have sharpened our ideas to justify ourselves. As if it were normal, we continue to sow destruction, pain, death!”
4. Change is possible if we only look to the Cross.
Peace is possible, the pope said. All we must do, from “the least to the greatest,” including government leaders, is to demand that it be a goal. Jesus, in his great sacrifice of love, has shown us the way.
“How I wish that all men and women of goodwill would look to the Cross if only for a moment,” Pope Francis said. “There, we can see God’s reply: Violence is not answered with violence, death is not answered with the language of death. In the silence of the Cross, the uproar of weapons ceases and the language of reconciliation, forgiveness, dialogue and peace is spoken.”
5. Encounter wins out.
For peace to occur, we must work together.
“Look upon your brother’s sorrow and do not add to it,” Pope Francis said. “Stay your hand, rebuild the harmony that has been shattered; and all this achieved not by conflict but by encounter.”