Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God

January 1, 2017

January 1, 2017


January 1, 2017

Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God





When they saw this, they made known the message that had been told them about this child – that he, savior, Messiah, and Lord, would bring peace on earth, shalom, security, well-being.

Woven into the fabric of the Jesus’ story from beginning to end is an identification of his mission with peace on earth – deep peace, peace rooted in justice, and a call to the task of peacemaking for those who would be disciples.  

We say the words often and easily, don’t we? “Peace be with you.”  We call him Prince of Peace.  We listen to the promise, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God.”  We struggle to follow his mandates: “Love your enemy;”  “Leave your gifts at the altar and go be reconciled with a brother or sister who has something against you.” And we are deeply puzzled by his warning, “I come not to bring peace, but the sword.”  

To seek peace, deep peace rooted in justice, shalom – not a mere absence of war, but the fullness of life for all – that is the Christian vocation.  

Each year since 1967 on January 1st, the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God, the Catholic Church has observed the World Day of Peace.  In his message this year for the 50th World Day of Peace, Pope Francis has asked Catholics to reflect on Nonviolence: A Style of Politics for Peace.  

Nonviolence -- a way of life, a positive and powerful force for social change, a process for ending violence without violence, for transforming conflict, and for protecting the vulnerable. Nonviolence.

A year or so ago, according to eye witnesses, a group of Kenyan Muslims traveling on a bus ambushed by Islamist gunmen protected Christian passengers by refusing to be split into groups. They told the militants to kill them together or leave them alone. Some of the Muslim passengers gave non-Muslims headscarves to try to conceal their identities when the bus was stopped. One hundred passengers, mostly women, were on the bus at the time of the attack. Two people died, but the rest escaped.  

Mobilizing courageous and creative people-power, nonviolence doesn’t escape conflict but actively and powerful engages and transforms it.  

Last April, 85 people from around the world gathered for a conference in Rome on nonviolence and just peace at the invitation of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, Pax Christi International and other Catholic organizations.  Many of the participants came from countries that have been at war or dealing with serious violence for decades: Iraq, Sri Lanka, Colombia, South Sudan, the DR Congo, Afghanistan, Palestine, the Philippines. Their testimony was extremely powerful.

For example, Dominican Sister Nazek Matty whose community was expelled from Mosul by ISIS said, “We can’t respond to violence with worse violence.  In order to kill five violent men, we have to create 10 violent men to kill them. . . . It’s like a dragon with seven heads. You cut one and two others come up.”

Many of the conference participants highlighted a deep yearning for just peace, especially in war zones around the world, and an amazing persistence in the pursuit of peace even in the most difficult circumstances.  Courageous people in local communities living with unimaginable danger said, "Stop the militarization, stop bombing, stop the proliferation of weapons . Rely on nonviolent strategies to transform conflict.”

The Church in Uganda, Colombia, South Sudan, and in many other countries has been involved in non-violent peacebuilding strategies, engaging even the most violent actors in efforts to build a peace that would be just and lasting.  

Is there another path for the human community to take that will lead us beyond perpetual violence and war?  What contribution could the institutional Catholic Church-- all of us as a Catholic community - make to help the world find that other path and move in a direction that better reflects Jesus’ teachings and way of life?

There is little doubt among scholars that the message of nonviolence is central to Jesus’ life and teaching.  

In his own times, rife with structural violence, Jesus proclaimed a new, nonviolent order rooted in the unconditional love of God. He called his disciples to love their enemies; to become peacemakers; to forgive and repent; and to be abundantly merciful.  And he embodied nonviolence by actively resisting systemic dehumanization.  

He defied the Sabbath laws to heal the man with the withered hand, confronted the powerful in the Temple, challenged the men accusing a woman of adultery, and insisted over and over again that everyone had a place at the community’s table.  

Pope Benedict XVI said, “Love of one’s enemy constitutes the nucleus of the ‘Christian revolution. "  Every Pope since John XXIII has spoken passionately about the futility of war and the urgent need to promote a peace that is just and lasting.  

But, if we are going to make this Christian revolution real in the 21st century, nonviolence needs much more attention.  There is never enough investment in the design of, or training in, effective nonviolent practices.  Nonviolence is often misrepresented, misunderstood or too narrowly defined.  Nonviolence is not the same as pacifism, yet the terms are almost always used interchangeably, and nonviolence is much broader than civil resistance or protest.  

What if … Catholics were formed from the beginning of life to understand and appreciate the power of active nonviolence and the connection of nonviolence to the heart of the Gospel – trained to understand the implications of Love your Enemy . . . . What if every Catholic in the world was alert to signs of impending violence wherever and at whatever scale -- and was trained to help transform conflict?

What if the Catholic Church committed its vast spiritual, intellectual and financial resources to developing a new moral framework and language for discerning ways to prevent violence and protect people and the planet in a dangerous world?

Now more than ever it is time to put active nonviolence – as a way of being, a method for change, and the foundation for a global culture of peace – into practice in our own neighborhoods and throughout the world.  

Jesus proclaimed the Reign of God as a new world of nonviolence where the dignity of every person would be honored and where justice and peace would flourish.  In 2017, let us dedicate ourselves prayerfully and actively to becoming nonviolent people, a nonviolent Church, and a nonviolent world.  Let us welcome the Prince of Peace. "Nothing is impossible if we turn to God in prayer.  Everyone,” Pope Francis said this fall in Assisi, “can be an artisan of peace."

Cuando lo vieron dieron al mensaje que se les había dado acerca de este niño – que él, el mesías, y señor, traería paz a la tierra, shalom, seguridad y bienestar.

Entrelazado en le historia de Jesús de principio a fin es la identificación de la misión de Jesus en la traer paz a la tierra – profunda paz, con raizes profundamente sembradas en la justicia, y el llamado a ser instrumentos de paz para los que pudiéramos ser discípulos.

Tan a menudo decimos la palabras, verdad? ‘La paz este contigo.’ Le decimos el príncipe de Paz. Nos sabemos la promesa ‘Bienaventurado los pacíficos, porque ellos serán llamados hijos de Dios.’ Luchamos con el mandado de ‘Ama a tu enemigo.’ ‘deja allí tu ofrenda delante del altar, y anda, reconcíliate primero con tu hermano, y entonces ven y presenta tu ofrenda”. Y nos confunde muchísimo “No penséis que he venido para traer paz a la tierra; no he venido para traer paz, sino espada”

Buscar la paz, profundamente establecida en la justicia, shalom – no solo la falta de guerra, sino la plenitud de vida para todos – y la vocación Cristiana.

Cada año desde el primer día de enero 1967, la solemnidad de María, Madre de Dios de la iglesia Católica ha observado el día mundial de la Paz. En su mensaje en este el día de la paz numero 50 el papa Francisco le dice a los Católicos que piensen en ‘La No Violencia: un estilo de política para la paz’.

No-violencia – una forma de vida, una fuerza positiva y poderosa para el cambio social, un proceso para acabar con la violencia SIN violencia, para transformar conflictos, y para proteger las comunidades vulnerables.

Hace más o menos un ano, de acuerdo con testigos, un grupo de musulmanes de la Kenya viajando por autobús se vieron emboscados por hombres armados islámicos. Proclamaron a los atacantes – ‘¡O nos matan a todos o los dejan solos!” De hecho algunos de los pasajeros musulmanes les dieron sus pañuelos de cabeza a las mujeres en lo que el autobús se detenía para ayudarlas a esconderse. En total habían mas de cien personas en el autobús – dos murieron – los demás escaparon.

La movilización de gente creativa y valiente, donde la no violencia no evita o escapa del conflicto pero que lo busca, lo confronta con poder, y los transforma.

Abril del año pasado 85 personas del mundo entero se reunieron en Roma a raíz de una invitación del Consejo Pontífice de Justicia Y Paz para discutir la no violencia y la paz. Presentes también Paz Cristi Internacional y varias otras organizaciones Católicas. Muchos de los participantes venían de países arrasados por décadas de violencia: Iraq, Sri Lanka,

Colombia, Sudan del Sur, la República Democrática Del Congo, Afghanistan, Palestinia, las filipinas. Sus testimonios muy poderosos!

Por ejemplo, la hermana Dominicana Nazek Matty, cuya comunidad había sido expulsada de Mosul por Isis, dijo, “No podemos responder a la violencia con violencia. Para matar a cinco hombre hay que crear 10 hombres para matarlos. Es como un dragón de siete cabezas. Si cortas una cabeza salen dos mas.”

Muchos de los participantes hablaron de anhelar una paz justa, especialmente en las zonas de guerra del mundo, y de la búsqueda incansable de la paz, aun en circunstancias difíciles. Gente valiente, viviendo en peligro difícil de imaginar decían “Paren la militarización, paren el bombardeo, paren la proliferación de armas. Confíen en las estrategias no violentas para transformar el conflicto.”

La iglesia de Uganda, Colombia y el Sudan del Sur, y en muchos otros países ha estado involucrada en esfuerzos de paz no violentos por muchos anos, trabajando con los actores más violentos en un esfuerzo para construir una paz que sea justa y que dure.

¿Habrá otro camino para la comunidad humana que nos pueda llevar más allá de la guerra y violencia perpetua? ¿Y cómo contribuirá la iglesia Católica institucional – todos nosotros como una comunicada Católica – que pudiéramos hace nosotros para encontrar un camino y movernos en una dirección que mejor refleje las enseñanzas de Jesús y su modo de vida?

No cabe duda entre los académicos de que el mensaje de no violencia es central a la vida de Jesús y sus enseñanzas.

Hasta en su propio tiempo, lleno de violencia estructural, Jesús proclamo una orden nueva, no violenta, enraizada en el amor sin condición de Dios. Le dijo a sus discípulos que amaran a sus enemigos; que fueran pacificadores; que perdonaran; y que fueran abundantemente misericordiosos. Jesús personifico la no violencia al resistir activamente la deshumanización estructural y sistemática.

Jesús desafió las leyes del sábado para sanar al hombre con la mando marchita, confronto al templo, se le enfrento al hombre que acusaba a la mujer de adulterio, e insistió repetidas veces que TODOS somos bienvenidos a la mesa de la comunidad.

El papa Benedicto XVI dijo, “El amor a los enemigos constituye el núcleo de la "revolución cristiana"

Cada papa desde el Papa Juan XXIII ha hablado apasionadamente acerca de la futilidad de la guerra y la urgente necesidad de promover una paz justa y duradera.

Pero si vamos a hacer una realidad esta revolución Cristiana del siglo XXI, la no violencia requiere mucha atención. Nunca hay suficientes recursos dedicados al diseño

y entrenamiento de métodos eficientes de no violencia. La no violencia es a menudo malinterpretada, mal representada o definida muy estrechamente. La no violencia no es pacifismo. Aunque a menudo le terminología es casi intercambiable la no violencia es mucho más amplia que la desobediencia civil o protestas.

¿Qué tal si los católicos fueran educados desde el principio de sus vidas a entender y apreciar el poder de la no violencia y la conexión de la no violencia al corazón del evangelio? ¿Qué tal si los Católicos fueran entrenados a entender las implicaciones de ‘Ama a tu enemigo’? ¿Y que si los cada Católico el mundo entero pudiera estar al alerta de la inminente posibilidad de violencia – y fuera entrenado a transformas conflicto?

¿Y que si la iglesia Católica dedicara sus vastos recursos espirituales, intelectuales y financieros para desarrollar un nuevo marco de referencia moral e idiomas para discernir maneras de evitar la violencia para proteger a la gente y el planeta en un mundo peligroso?

Ahora más que nunca es cuando tenemos que activamente implementar la no violencia – como una forma de ser, un método de cambio, y la fundación para la cultura global de paz – hasta en nuestros propios vecindarios y a través del mundo.

Jesús proclamo el reino de Dios como un nuevo mundo de no violencia, donde la dignidad de cada persona seria honrada y la justicia y la paz florecerían. En 2017 dediquémonos con acciones y oración a ser personas de no violencia, una iglesia de no violencia, un mundo de no violencia. Démosle la bienvenida al príncipe de la paz. Nada es imposible si nos tornamos a Dios en oración. Toda persona, dijo el Papa Francisco en Septiembre del 2016 en Aisis, puede ser artesano de paz.

First Reading

Nm 6:22-27


Ps 67:2-3, 5, 6, 8

Second Reading

Gal 4:4-7


Lk 2:16-21
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Marie Dennis

Marie Dennis

Marie Dennis is senior advisor to the secretary general of Pax Christi International. She was co-president of Pax Christi from 2007 to 2019 and serves on the executive committee of Pax Christi’s Catholic Nonviolence Initiative.

She was one of the primary organizers of the April 2016 conference on Nonviolence and Just Peace that was cosponsored by the Vatican and Pax Christi International. The conference called on the Catholic Church to re-commit to the centrality of gospel nonviolence; proposed the World Day of Peace 2017 theme on nonviolence; and started the Catholic Nonviolence Initiative. A second conference in April 2019, which was also cosponsored by the Vatican, contributed to an active, ongoing dialogue that has helped to move nonviolence to the center of Catholic teaching on war and peace.

Marie was previously director of the Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns. She is a Secular Franciscan, author or co-author of seven books including Oscar Romero: Reflections on His Life and Writings and St. Francis and the Foolishness of God; editor of Choosing Peace: The Catholic Church Returns to Gospel Nonviolence; and co-editor of Advancing Nonviolence and Just Peace in the Church and the World.  

She holds a masters degree in moral theology from Washington Theological Union and  honorary doctorates from Trinity Washington University and Alvernia University.  She is a lay woman, a mother of six and a grandmother.

Marie has visited many parts of the world, including countries in conflict, for Maryknoll and Pax Christi International. She serves on the steering committee of the Catholic Peacebuilding Network and as a contributing editor to Sojourners magazine. She has previously served on the White House Task Force on Global Poverty and Development; the advisory committee of Orbis Books; and the national boards of JustFaith Ministries, Sojourners magazine, the Jubilee USA Network and several other organizations.  


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