Sunday, January 1, 2012

Educating the Young in Justice and Peace

The octave of Christmas is also known as the World Day of Peace. For this day, the Holy Father chose as theme: Educating young people in Justice and Peace. Last night, we heard that our Holy Father acknowledge the fact that last year “has been marked by a rising sense of frustration at the crisis looming over society, the world of labour and the economy, a crisis whose roots are primarily cultural and anthropological. It seems as if a shadow has fallen over our time, preventing us from clearly seeing the light of day.” (World Day of Peace 2012) The year that has just concluded was marked by turmoil because young people are frustrated with the way things are. Thus, we saw the occupy Wall Street movement that caught the world in fire. Likewise, we see how one after another, dictatorships in the Middle East collapsed due to popular uprising. There is truly a hunger for justice and peace. And it is really time to start along the way of peace by educating the young according to this path.

Where does education in justice and peace begin? The Holy Father says that it begins in the family. In the Holy Gospel, we heard: The shepherds went in haste to Bethlehem and found Mary and Joseph and the infant lying in the manger. The infant lying in the manger is the Sun of Justice. He is our Peace. The shepherds found the Sun of Justice and the Prince of Peace in the company of Mary and Joseph…in the Holy Family.

The Holy Father writes: “Where does true education in peace and justice take place? First of all, in the family, since parents are the first educators. The family is the primary cell of society; ‘it is in the family that children learn the human and Christian values which enable them to have a constructive and peaceful coexistence. It is in the family that they learn solidarity between the generations, respect for rules, forgiveness and how to welcome others.’ ( BENEDICT XVI, Address to Administrators of Lazio Region and of the Municipality and Province of Rome ,14 January 2011: L’Osservatore Romano, 15 January 2011, p. 7.) The family is the first school in which we are trained in justice and peace.” (World Day of Peace 2012.)

The troubles that afflict the world today are really issues of injustice. When banks and businesses grow while workers become more subjected to poverty…there is injustice. When government cries for the rule of law but resorts to short cuts and say that the end justifies the means…there is injustice. When state laws are manipulated in defiance of natural law…there is injustice. And young generations are disturbed by what they see. For what future is there when laws are constantly manipulated to the advantage of the mighty and powerful? When we grab what we want because the end justifies the means, then we have the beginnings of anarchy.

Jesus, the Prince of Peace, shows us that peace is the fruit of justice. He who is the Son of God was not only born of a woman. He was born under the law. While the Scriptural context of the letter to the Galatians refer here to the law of Moses, I think that by the mystery of the Incarnation, the Son of God subjected himself even to natural law. Such is the humility that was manifested in the Incarnation. The Son of God does not put himself above the law. He placed himself under the authority of human parents. He was born under the law. By his incarnation, the Lord Jesus teaches us the value of solidarity between generations, respect for rules and fair play, forgiveness, and living peacefully with others. Born under the law, the Lord Jesus teaches us that at the very foundation of justice is basically respect for rules, respect for laws. When we place ourselves above the law, we pave the way for injustice.

Human and Christian values must once again be taught in the family if we want to assure the world of a peaceful future founded on justice. The way things are now, young people are easily swayed by ideologies that manipulate them to achieve party goals. This is not the way to peace. We have to go by the way the shepherds took. They went in haste to Bethlehem and search for him who is the Source of Justice and Peace. The Holy Father wrote: It is not ideologies that save the world, but only a return to the living God, our Creator, the guarantor of our freedom, the guarantor of what is really good and true … an unconditional return to God who is the measure of what is right and who at the same time is everlasting love. And what could ever save us apart from love?” (BENEDICT XVI, Address at Youth Vigil (Cologne, 20 August 2005): AAS 97 (2005), 885-886.) Love takes delight in truth, it is the force that enables us to make a commitment to truth, to justice, to peace, because it bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things (cf. 1 Cor 13:1-13).”

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