Becoming a peaceful family and nation


(This post from 2019 had remained "unpublished".
Thought appropriate to publish it at the beginning of 2020 

as Pope Francis talks of peace as a journey of hope)

Closing the diocesan week of prayer for peace I reflected during the homily on the challenges of working for peace and the way we understand peace.

On that Sunday's gospel we read about John telling Jesus they had stopped someone casting out devils in His name because he was not following them. I believe Jesus' reply ("You must not stop him: no one who works a miracle in my name is likely to speak evil of me") goes beyond not stopping someone from doing good but is also an invitation to work with others with whom we share the same goals and the same ways to achieve them. 

We do it in our diocese. Enough to think of the march against human trafficking we led in 2017 at Mbabane. Members of His Majesty's government were present together with members of other Christian Churches.

The challenge normally is to agree on what we want to achieve and how. We might use the same words but we might give different meaning to them.

For example not everyone understands "peace" in the same way.

Working for peace seems to be a common goal of many but the challenge is to agree on what the foundations for peace are. Having a look at the Popes' messages for peace makes it easier to understand what we are talking about.
  • Peace cannot be built on fear. Enough to think of a family. When members of a family are afraid to talk, things might look "peaceful" but it is just a volcano ready to explode at the first opportunity. The same thing applies to any group, a community or a country. Fear cannot be the foundation of peace;
  • Peace cannot be build on violence, on any type of violence. That is why, for example, we oppose gender based violence. In 2018 we marched against GBV and organised a “round table” on the same topic. It seems to affect many of our families and is therefore an obstacle on the road to peace;
  • Peace cannot be built on lack of freedom. Lack of freedom to talk, to meet, to reflect together. It is also shown when people tend to self censored themselves and not to talk about issues out of fear of the possible consequences. No one told them not to do it but they do know they should not;
  • Peace cannot be built on secrecy and lack of information which makes people forever suspicious;
  • Peace cannot be built on the privilege of some and the lack of rights of others, it cannot be built on poverty either;
  • Peace cannot be built on selfishness and greed. "To become authentic peacemakers, it is fundamental to keep in mind our transcendent dimension and to enter into constant dialogue with God, the Father of mercy, whereby we implore the redemption achieved for us by his only-begotten Son. In this way mankind can overcome that progressive dimming and rejection of peace which is sin in all its forms: selfishness and violence, greed and the will to power and dominion, intolerance, hatred and unjust structures." (Benedict XVI, 2013)
  • Peace cannot be built on lack of dialogue. In 1983 St John Paul II wrote: "Where there have been conflicts - and, contrary to a widespread opinion, one can, alas, number more than a hundred and fifty armed conflicts since the Second World War - it was that dialogue did not really take place, or that it was falsified, made into a snare, or deliberately reduced. 
The title of  the Popes' messages normally put in a positive way:
  • Nonviolence: a style of politics for peace (Pope Francis, 2017)
  • Fighting Poverty to Build Peace (Pope Benedict XVI, 2016)
  • Respect for human rights: the secret of true peace (Pope John Paul II, 1999)
  • If you want Peace, work for Justice (Pope Paul VI, 1972)
Just to quote a few of them from four different Popes. You can read most of them by clicking HERE.

As Pope Francis says today:

"Peace is a great and precious value, 
the object of our hope and the aspiration of the entire human family."

May this new year find us journeying together towards peace.