January 1st marks World Day of Peace (WDP), a day which was established by Pope Paul VI in 1967. This year we celebrate the 54th World Day of Peace, and our Holy Father. Pope Francis, has chosen the theme – “A Culture Of Care As A Path To Peace” – by which the Holy Father stresses that peace is to be attained when every individual cultivates a “culture of care.” We have learned lessons from the “massive COVID-19 health crisis” which has affected many areas, including the domestic, financial and commercial sectors and has caused deep sorrow, hardship and suffering to humanity throughout the world. The Holy Father emphasises that everyone needs “to care for one another and for creation, in our efforts to build a more fraternal society.”
The Sacred Scripture presents to us, God, the Creator – the Source and Model of care for creatures – who invites us to be “genuine in caring for our lives and our relationship with nature” and “to preserve the harmony of his creation.” Jesus’ life and ministry reflects His Father’s love and care for humanity. We, as His followers and as a Church, should “go and do likewise” (cf. Lk 10:37), by carrying out our responsibilities of caring for one another and for creation through “the spiritual and corporal works of mercy” in order to build a fraternal society.
The Pope continues to emphasise on the commitment of “promoting the dignity of each human person, solidarity with the poor and vulnerable, the pursuit of the common good and concern for the protection of creation.” He also stresses that we foster “relationships” and “live together in families, communities and societies” rather than to be individualistic, exclusive and exploitative. The Holy Father also points out from his Encyclical “Laudato Si” that we are to be “fully aware that all of creation is interconnected” and “to effectively care for the earth, our common home.” In addition to that, he also invites us to have an authentic “sense of deep communion with nature” and grow in “tenderness, compassion and concern” and “care through solidarity” as a sign of love for one another.
The Holy Father also urges government leaders, organisations, business people, scientists, communicators and educators to promote the three inseparable principles of Social Doctrine of the Church – “justice, peace and care for creation.” He hopes that everyone grows in a culture of care, and work towards social equalities and fundamental human rights, all of which need to be respected. Every human being needs a conversion of heart and a changed way of thinking “in order to work for true peace in solidarity and fraternity.” He also stresses that resources spent on weapons, be utilised instead, “for the safety of individuals, the promotion of peace and integral human development – the fight against poverty and the provision of health care.”
“Education is one of the pillars of a more just and fraternal society.” The Pope highlights that “promoting a culture of care calls for a process of education” on peace, which “begins in the family, where we learn how to live and relate to others in a spirit of mutual respect.” He also invites schools, universities, religious leaders as well as the media, to promote “values, based on the recognition of the dignity of each person, each linguistic, ethnic and religious community.”
Rev. Fr. George Packiasamy