3716 Garden Ave. Miami Beach, FL 33140

Peace on earth

Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God

Dear sisters and brothers in Christ,

The celebration of Christmas Day lasts an entire week in the life of the Church. December 25th marks the beginning of the Octave of Christmas that ends on the first day of the year with the celebration of the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God.

Although this solemnity goes unnoticed for many Christians, it celebrates the most important title that could be given to the Blessed Mother. All her privileges and advocations, all the titles given to the Virgin Mary, her Immaculate Conception in the womb of her mother, St. Anne, are ordered to her divine motherhood.

We are so used to call her “Mother of God” when we pray the Hail Mary that we are no longer shocked by this title. In its day it was the cause of great controversy in the Church. There were some who refused to call the Blessed Mother that way. They preferred to call her “Mother of Christ.” Yet, since the Lord Jesus is true God and true man, He is one person with two natures, without mixture or division, and the Virgin conceived Jesus in her womb, she is properly called Mother of God because she is the mother of Jesus Christ.

Given the fact that the Octave of Christmas ends on the first day of the year, this Sunday is also a good opportunity to take some stock and do an examination of conscience reviewing the year that is ending, to give thanks to God for the time he gave us and to consecrate the new year to the Lord.

Additionally, because of a felicitous initiative of pope St. Paul VI, every year on January 1, the Church observes World Day of Peace. It is a day of prayer and reflection to ask the Lord of history for the gift of peace, which comes about by the action of the Holy Spirit.

This true peace that Jesus announces and inaugurates, that Christians must build is not just the absence of conflict or the silencing of weapons but, as St. Thomas Aquinas teaches, tranquility within order. When the natural order is respected and people live according to it, the peace that Christ brings advances among us. The Kingdom of God, already present in our midst, becomes more visible in human history. On the other hand, when that order which is accessible to reason is trampled upon, all kinds of conflicts flourish everywhere. We can see that happening around us, not just on account of the fratricidal wars that plague the world, but among other phenomena such as the proliferation of unjust laws, the degradation of family life and the dissemination of ideologies that deny human nature.

In the face of the desolation of wars, disorder and a pandemic that still threatens our health and shows its pernicious effects on the economy, we, Christians, far from being discouraged or giving up, raise our arms in a renewed prayer that strengthens us to begin the new year working diligently in the construction of a true peace, grounded on justice, reason and the natural order.

As pope Francis reminds us in his message for this World Day of Peace observed on January 1, 2023: “When tragic events seem to overwhelm our lives, and we feel plunged into a dark and difficult maelstrom of injustice and suffering, we are likewise called to keep our hearts open to hope and to trust in God, who makes himself present, accompanies us with tenderness, sustains us in our weariness and, above all, guides our path. For this reason, Saint Paul constantly exhorts the community to be vigilant, seeking goodness, justice and truth: “So then, let us not fall asleep as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober”. His words are an invitation to remain alert and not to withdraw into fear, sorrow or resignation, or to yield to distraction or discouragement. Instead, we should be like sentinels keeping watch and ready to glimpse the first light of dawn, even at the darkest hour…

Nor can we overlook the fractures in our social and economic order that the pandemic exposed, and the contradictions and inequalities that it brought to the fore. It threatened the job security of many individuals and aggravated the ever-increasing problem of loneliness in our societies, particularly on the part of the poor and those in need…

Only rarely do individuals and societies achieve progress in conditions that generate such feelings of despondency and bitterness, which weaken efforts to ensure peace while provoking social conflict, frustration and various forms of violence. Indeed, the pandemic seems to have upset even the most peaceful parts of our world, and exposed any number of forms of fragility…

The war in Ukraine is reaping innocent victims and spreading insecurity, not only among those directly affected, but in a widespread and indiscriminate way for everyone, also for those who, even thousands of kilometers away, suffer its collateral effects – we need but think of grain shortages and fuel prices…

Certainly, the virus of war is more difficult to overcome than the viruses that compromise our bodies, because it comes, not from outside of us, but from within the human heart corrupted by sin…

With an altruism inspired by God’s infinite and merciful love, will we be able to build a new world and contribute to the extension of his kingdom, which is a kingdom of love, justice and peace.”

Fr. Roberto M. Cid