“The peace that Jesus brings is the fruit of a constant struggle against evil”, Pope Benedict XVI told the faithful today. And he explained that that struggle can result in division.
The Holy Father was referring to today’s reading from the Gospel of Luke (12:51-53) in which Jesus presents his mission of bringing peace to the world. Quoting Jesus’ words in full, the Pope said: “Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division. For from now on in one house there will be five divided, three against two and two against three. They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.”
Contrary to a superficial reading of the Gospel, the pope told pilgrims gathered in the courtyard of his summer residence at Castel Gandolfo that anyone who “knows even the slightest about the Gospel knows that this is the message of peace par excellence”.
“As St Paul wrote, the crucified and risen Jesus is our peace”, the Holy Father said. He is the one who “battles against the wall of enmity to inaugurate the Kingdom of God that is love, joy and peace”. But the Pope, aware that this passage can be hard to understand, explained it further.
“This expression of Christ”, the Pope said, “means that the peace He has come to bring is not synonymous with the simple absence of conflict.” On the contrary, the Pope said, “the peace of Jesus is the fruit of a constant struggle against evil. The confrontation Jesus talks about is not against man or human strength, but against the enemy of God and man, Satan.”
“Whoever resists this enemy,” Benedict XVI said, “remains faithful to God”. But resistance, he added, must necessarily mean confronting “misunderstanding and, at times, quite real persecution.” Anyone who wishes to follow Christ and apply himself to cause of truth without compromise “must know that they will meet with opposition”, the Pope said, and become “signs of division between persons, even within their own families”. While love of parents is a “sacred commandment”, he explained, that love must be “authentic” and “can never be set above the love of God in Christ”.
“In such a way, following in the footsteps of Christ, Christians become instruments of peace, according to the celebrated example of St Francis of Assisi”, Benedict XVI told the crowd. “It is not an inconsistent or apparent peace, but real, pursued with courage and tenacity in daily tasks, overcoming evil with good.”
Benedict also held up the Virgin Mary, the Queen of Peace, as someone who shared in Jesus’ struggle against the Evil One: “We invoke her maternal intercession, because she helps us to always be a witness to the peace of Christ, never stooping to compromise with evil”.
In closing, the Holy Father sent his cordial greetings to the Communion and Liberation movement which is this week meeting in Rimini, north east Italy. Referring to the theme of the meeting, ‘Truth is the destiny to which we have been called’, the Pope said that “the search for truth, that is, the search for God”, is the “deepest calling of man”.