On Tuesday 8 September 2020 we celebrated the Nativity of Mary. In this feast day the Holy Spirit, the Giver of life, gave me the grace to understand, or at least to start a process of understanding, a very important aspect regarding the Mother of God and Our Mother Mary: Mary is the custodian of Christ’s peace in our families and communities.
It is a sad fact that numerous families, communities, and even the Church herself, is marked by division. As Pope Saint John Paul II rightly lamented in his encyclical concerning the commitment to ecumenism, Ut Unum Sint: “Division openly contradicts the will of Christ, provides a stumbling block to the world, and inflicts damage on the most holy cause of proclaiming the Good News to every creature” (no.6). And if the Good News is to be proclaimed to all nations (Matt 28:19), as explicitly willed by Christ, no reality is really exempt from being enriched by the first fruits of the Gospel! The family, community, society and the Church herself, are all called to actively partake from the good news of peace (Acts 10:36) which only the Gospel can claim to impart on all those who welcome its message with a heart of a child.
Peace is the gift that is offered to us through the tender mercy of our God (Luke 1:78). It is an offer of love stemming solely from God’s holy initiative so that we may be a sign of peaceful joy that flowingly emanates from God’s heart for all of us! Why? Because we were created, saved and are being continually sanctified by the God of peace. That is why it is the latter Who should be the way through whom we have to trail if we want to live a meaning and flourishing life. For those who say that God is their Father in Christ they cannot fathom to live otherwise safe than in His peace. For this purpose in the Canticle of Zechariah, liturgically known as the Benedictus, we pray to the Lord to guide our feet into the way of peace (Luke 1:79).
Thus, we ardently pray this prayer to Our Father not simply because, you and me, were created to be the son [and daughter] of peace (Luke 10:6). There is a foundational step before this relevant affirmation: you and me are sons and daughters of peace because our Redeemer is peace itself! The Letter to the Ephesians leaves no room for doubt on this essential point when it says: For he [Christ Jesus] is our peace, who has made us both one, and has broken down the dividing wall of hostility (Eph 2:14). Christ is the terms of [our] peace (Luke 14:32). He is the good news of peace (Acts 10:36). He is the way of peace (Rom 3:17) and the God of peace (Rom 15:33). His is the power to crush Satan, the author of conflict and disunity, under [our] feet (Rom 16:20). And, if the prophet Isaiah aptly calls him, Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace (Isa 9:6) then He is not a God of confusion but of peace (1 Cor 14:33). Furthermore, His Spirit is the one which brings and maintain[s] the unity … in the bond of peace (Eph 4:3). Consequently, His is the gospel of peace (Eph 6:15) because it directly comes from the God of peace (Phil 4:9).
Since Christ is our peace (Eph 2:14) Mary, being his Mother, and Our Mother by Christ’s gift of love to us, is, thanks to Christ’s merits, the Queen of peace! In the little but very meaningful information we do have from the Gospels we can easily deduce that where Mary is there is the order of joy, humility, and peace of Her Son Jesus. For instance, the greeting of the angel Gabriel is so significant. He saluted her with these words: Hail, O favored one, the Lord is with you! (Luke 1:28). Another detail is what her kinswoman Elizabeth told Mary as she stepped into her house. For behold, when the voice of your greeting came to my ears, the babe in my womb leaped for joy (Luke 1:44). The final detail which throws powerful light on the fact that Mary is the Queen of Peace is, precisely, the miracle at Cana. Seeing the shame and confusion which the lack of wine would certainly have generated on the newlyweds Mary immediately intervened on behalf of the wedding couple so that the peace of the occasion is not jeopardised. However, John’s text is so exact about Who was the real author of that peace that worrying situation was calling for to intervene: When the wine failed, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.”… His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you” (John 2:3.5). As the Johannine account states the best wine was now available in abundance.
A very powerful prayer which helps us live in peace in our families, communities, nation and the world at large is, surely, the Magnificat. Pope Francis explained to us why the Magnificat is so strong to aid us in our battle for having and maintain Christ’s peace among us. In his message for the 32nd World Youth Day he wrote:
One of the great gifts that the Virgin received was certainly that of faith. Belief in God is a priceless gift, but one that has to be received. Elizabeth blesses Mary for this, and she in turn responds with the song of the Magnificat (cf. Lk 1:46-55), in which we find the words: ‘The Mighty One has done great things for me’ (v. 49). Mary’s is a revolutionary prayer, the song of a faith-filled young woman conscious of her limits, yet confident in God’s mercy. She gives thanks to God for looking upon her lowliness and for the work of salvation that He has brought about for the people, the poor and the humble. Faith is at the heart of Mary’s entire story. Her song helps us to understand the mercy of the Lord as the driving force of history, the history of each of us and of all humanity.
In our limits in attempting to preserve peace in ourselves and amongst each other, why not turn to God, and, like Mary, admit our limits and lowliness so as to let confidence in His mercy take root in our troubling situations? Only a faith-filled and extremely humble prayer can help us experience tangibly God’s salvation in our lives and in those around us. Circled by humility and faith which the Magnificat instills, the evil one, the author of conflict, hate and confusion, simply disappears. Mary’s faithfulness and humility chokes him. Hence, and for that matter, the Magnificat remains the best prayer for peace!