There's a God in every
. With that simple, frequent comment, my father taught
us. A great man.
ZENIT, The world seen from Rome
Benedict XVI Offers Key to Peace
Reflects on the Depth of the Human Face
VATICAN CITY, JAN. 1, 2010 (Zenit.org).- Peace begins when we look at
one another as persons, regardless of race, nationality, language or
religion, Benedict XVI says. But, he maintains, this is only possible
when God dwells in our hearts.The Holy Father reflected on how to
achieve true and lasting peace during his homily today in a Mass at St.
Peter's for the feast of Mary, Mother of God. Jan. 1 marks the annual
celebration of the World Day of Peace.
"To meditate on the mystery of the face of God and man is a privileged
path that leads to peace," the Pope suggested. "This [peace], in fact,
begins by looking upon others with respect, recognizing in the face of
the other a person, regardless of the color of his skin, his
nationality, his language or his religion."
"But," he continued, "who, if not God, can guarantee [that we see] what
we could call the 'depth' of the face of the person? In reality, only
if we have God in our hearts are we in a condition to detect in the
face of others a brother in humanity -- not a means, but an end, not a
rival or an enemy, but another 'I,' a facet of the infinite mystery of
the human being.
"Our perception of the world and, in particular, of our peers,
essentially depends on the presence within us of the Spirit of God.
"It is a type of 'resonance': One who has an empty heart does not
perceive anything more than flat images, lacking depth. But, the more
we are inhabited by God, the more sensitive we are to his presence in
those who surround us -- in all creatures, and especially in other
Nevertheless, the Pontiff acknowledged, the "human face, marked by the
harshness of life and evil" sometimes struggles to be an "epiphany of
"Therefore," he continued, "in order to recognize and respect each
other for what we truly are, that is, brothers, it is even more
necessary to make reference to the face of a common Father, who loves
us all, despite our limits and errors."
Unveiling God's face
Benedict XVI's homily was a reflection on the face of God and the faces
of man, which he proposed as a key for understanding the issue of peace
in the world.
"The face is the expression of the person, par excellence," he
suggested. "It is what makes him recognizable and where he shows
sentiments, thoughts and intentions of the heart."
"God," the Holy Father continued, "by nature, is invisible.
Nevertheless, the Bible also applies this image to him. [...] The whole
of biblical history can be read as a progressive unveiling of the face
of God, up to the point of his full revelation in Jesus Christ."
Referring to Mary's title as Mother of God, the Pontiff explained that
"the face of God has taken a human face, allowing himself to be seen
and recognized in the son of the Virgin Mary."
"She who guarded in her heart the secret of divine maternity was the
first to see the face of God made man in the tiny fruit of her womb,"
"A mother has a very special relationship -- unique and exclusive in
every way -- with a newborn," the Pope continued. "The first face that
a child sees is that of his mother, and this gaze is decisive for his
relationship with life, with himself, with others, with God. It is
decisive as well so that he can become a 'child of peace.'"
The Holy Father went on to offer a reflection on the Byzantine icon of
the Virgin of Tenderness, which depicts the Child Jesus with his cheek
against that of his mother: "The Child looks at the Mother, and she
looks at us, almost as if reflecting to what she observes, and praying,
the tenderness of God, descended in them from heaven and incarnated in
this Son of Man that she carries in her arms.
"But this same icon also shows us in Mary the face of the Church, which
reflects upon us and upon the entire world the light of Christ, the
Church through which the Good News arrives to every person."
Benedict XVI maintained that it is important to be educated in respect
for those who are different starting in childhood.
He renewed his call to "invest in education, establishing the objective
-- beyond the necessary transmission of technical-scientific notions --
of a broader and deeper 'ecological responsibility,' based in respect
for the person and his fundamental rights and duties."
"Only in this way can a commitment to the environment truly become
education in peace and the construction of peace," he contended.
The Holy Father observed that "today it is ever more common to have the
experience of classrooms made up of children of various nationalities,
though also when this doesn't occur, their faces are a prophecy of the
humanity that we are called to form: a family of families and peoples."
These children, he said, "despite their differences, cry and laugh in
the same way; they have the same needs; they communicate spontaneously;
they play together ..."
"The faces of children are like a reflection of the vision of God for
the World," the Pontiff affirmed. "Why then wipe away their smiles? Why
poison their hearts?
"Unfortunately, the icon of the Mother of God of Tenderness finds its
tragic opposite in the sorrowful images of so many children and their
mothers in the claws of war and violence: fugitives, refugees, forced
The Bishop of Rome spoke of "faces eroded by hunger and sickness, faces
disfigured by pain and desperation." And he declared: "The faces of
innocent little ones are a silent call to us to take responsibility:
Before their helplessness, all of the false justifications for war and
violence come crashing down."
"We should," the Pope affirmed, "simply become designers of peace, lay
down every class of weapons and commit ourselves together to building a
world more worthy of the person."
A cosmic celebration
Benedict XVI contended that people are capable of respect to the degree
that they "carry in their own spirits a full sense of life."
"Otherwise, [the person] will be led to despise himself and what is
around him, to lack respect for the environment in which he lives, for
that which is created," the Pope cautioned. But, "one who knows how to
recognize in the cosmos the reflection of the invisible face of the
Creator is led to have greater love for creatures, more sensitivity for
their symbolic value."
"There exists, in fact, a very direct link between respect for the
person and the safeguarding of creation," he contended. "The duty [to
protect] the environment is derived from that to [protect] the person
considered in himself and in relation to others."
"If the person is degraded, the environment in which he lives is
degraded; if the culture tends to nihilism -- if not in theory, then in
practice -- nature cannot fail to pay the consequences," the Holy
And he reflected that there is a reciprocal influence between the face
of the person and the "face" of the environment.
"When human ecology is respected in society," he said, "environmental
ecology will also draw out benefits."
Finally, Benedict XVI emphasized that the "coming of God transfigures
creation and creates a type of cosmic celebration."
"The celebration of faith becomes a celebration of the person and all
that is created," he suggested. "The Church renews this mystery for
people of every generation; she shows them the face of God so that,
with his blessing, they can walk the path of peace."