"Millions of people still live in the midst of senseless conflicts," the Pope said to the Vatican Diplomatic Corps on Jan. 9. "We are frequently overwhelmed by images of death, by the pain of innocent men, women and children who plead for help and consolation, by the grief of those mourning the loss of a dear one due to hatred and violence, and by the drama of refugees fleeing war and migrants meeting tragic deaths."
Cardinal Parolin reflected that Mary's Magnificat prayer shows a sharp contrast between the great and powerful and the "little" history of the poor, the humble and the powerless.
"The latter are called to work for peace with another force, with other seemingly useless or ineffective means, such as conversion, reparation and trust," he said. "They are asked to halt the advance of evil by plunging into the ocean of divine Love as resistance, not surrender, to the banality and the inevitability of evil."
How a Christian should respond to evil was a focus of the cardinal's homily.
He noted the "perverse logic" of someone who realizes he has received a counterfeit bill and is tempted to pass it on to someone else. This temptation, if acted upon, would turn oneself, an innocent victim, into someone who victimizes others.
"The alternative is to halt the advance of evil, but that happens only by paying a price, by keeping the counterfeit banknote and thus freeing others from the advance of evil," he said. "This is the only reaction that can stop evil and prevail over it. Human beings are capable of a sacrifice that becomes reparation."
For the cardinal, this sacrifice is like that of the Crucifixion.
"Christ carries it out, showing that his way of loving is mercy," Cardinal Parolin said. "This excess of love can be seen in the cross of Jesus. He takes on the full weight of the hatred and the violence that rain down on him, without responding to the insults or threatening revenge. Instead, he forgives, and thus shows that there is a greater love."
"Christ's death was a victory over the evil unleashed by his tormentors, which all of us are," he added. "Jesus, crucified and risen, is our peace and salvation."
He pointed to the Virgin Mary's response to God as a model for every Christian.
"The Fathers of the Church tell us that Mary conceived Jesus first in faith and then in the flesh, when she said 'Yes' to God's call to her through the angel," he said. "But what took place in a singular way in the Virgin Mother takes place spiritually in us whenever we hear the word of God and put it into practice."
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The cardinal encouraged the faithful to imitate Mary's "generosity and courage" and present themselves to Jesus "so that he can continue to dwell in our midst."
"In this way, may the Virgin Mother shape us, pressing us to her Immaculate Heart, as she did with Lucia, Bl. Francisco and Bl. Jacinta," he said.
"On this centenary of the apparitions, with gratitude for the gift, the event, the message and the shrine of Fatima…throughout the past century, let us join our voices to that of the Virgin Mary: 'My soul magnifies the Lord... for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant... his mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation'."