.- Pope Benedict XVI marked 2012's Solemnity of Mary the Mother of God with a proclamation of the peace that is found in her son Jesus Christ.
“As Saint Paul says, 'He is our peace,' and at the same time the 'way' by which individuals and peoples can reach this goal to which we all aspire,” the Pope said in his homily on the Jan. 1 feast day, which coincided with the Church's 45th annual World Day of Peace.
The Pope welcomed pilgrims, Church leaders, and international dignitaries to St. Peter's Basilica for the year's first public Papal Mass. He told them that peace, “in the highest and fullest sense, is the sum and synthesis of all blessings” given by God.
“The Church too, on the first day of the year, invokes this supreme good in a special way,” he explained. “She does so, like the Virgin Mary, by revealing Jesus to all.”
“Jesus is a way that can be traveled, open to everyone,” the Pope said. “He is the path of peace. Today the Virgin Mary points him out to us, she shows us the way. Let us walk in it!”
Jan. 1 also saw the official release of the Pope's statement for the World Day of Peace, on the theme of “Educating Young People in Justice and Peace.”
In his homily, he called this education “a task for every generation,” and said humanity “has shown increasing awareness of it” in light of the 20th century's tragic events.
From the Church's perspective, an education in peace is also “part of the mission received from Christ … because the Gospel of Christ is also the Gospel of justice and peace.”
But he warned against a “technological mentality” and a “culture of relativism” that can obscure the need for virtue and truth in the educational process.
The Pope highlighted the role of families and religious communities, in helping young people to “learn the importance and the art of peaceful coexistence, mutual respect, dialogue and understanding.”
These goals, he said, are closely tied to the work of religious instruction.
“Every pathway of authentic religious formation guides the person, from the most tender age, to know God, to love him and to do his will,” the Pope observed. “God is love, he is just and peaceable, and anyone wishing to honor him must first of all act like a child following his father’s example.”
In his Angelus address after the Jan. 1 Mass, Pope Benedict offered further thoughts on the peace offered to humanity in Christ.
The “face of God” was “revealed in Jesus,” he told pilgrims gathered outside the window of his study for Sunday's midday prayer.
“Thus do we begin the new year 2012 with our gaze fixed on the face of God, revealed in the child of Bethlehem,” he said, “and on his mother Mary, who with humble submission accepted the divine plan.”
Through Mary's acceptance of God's will, “the true light which enlightens everyone came into the world, and the path of peace was reopened.”
Pope Benedict invited all people “to have the patience and constancy to seek out justice and peace, to cultivate a taste for what is just and true.”
He noted that peace was “never a quality that can be fully achieved, but a goal to which we must all aspire and for which we must all work.”
“Let us pray that the leaders of nations may renew their willingness and commitment to accept and support this irrepressible desire of humanity,” he urged, entrusting this hope to Mary as “the mother of the 'King of Peace.'”
Feast of the Holy Family
Two days before the Solemnity of Mary the Mother of God, the Church observed another feast of the Christmas season as it honored the Holy Family on Dec. 30.
In his Dec. 28 general audience, Pope Benedict continued his series on prayer with a reflection on the prayer life of Jesus, Mary, and Saint Joseph.
Through their example, he said, “we learn to contemplate the mystery of God’s presence and to grow as faithful disciples of Christ.”
He noted that the Gospels “present Mary as the supreme model of prayerful meditation on the mysteries of Christ’s life,”which the Church continues to practice through the Rosary.
Joseph, meanwhile, taught Jesus his own “quiet fidelity to work, prayer and observance of the precepts of the law.”
At the center of the Holy Family was “Jesus' unique relationship with his heavenly Father,” a mystery that “stands at the heart of all Christian prayer.”
“May the example of the Holy Family inspire all Christian families to be schools of prayer,” the Pope said, as he urged parents and children to “come to know that closeness to God which we joyfully celebrate in these days of Christmas.”