New Year’s Day 2020: Mary the Mother of God + World Day of Peace
We celebrate several things on January 1: the Solemnity of Mary, the Mother of God, and World Day of Peace. And, of course, it’s still the Christmas season and it is New Year’s Day.
Saint (Pope) Paul VI established a day for peace in 1968. He asked that, “every year, this commemoration be repeated as a hope and a promise, at the beginning of the calendar which measures and outlines the path of human life in time, that peace with its just and beneficent equilibrium may dominate the development of events to come.”
Popes always name a theme and prepare a message for January 1. As I write this post, Pope Francis has yet to release his message for the 2020 World Day of Peace. I’m sure that the man has enough other on his plate.
And, if you pay attention to papal travels, you are aware that his travels in late November included time in Japan. He fulfilled an old longing, as a Jesuit in formation, to go there as a missionary.
My hunch is that he probably waited until after his time in Japan to prepare his letter on peace, partly because a visit to that nation evokes strong sentiments in people about the need for that gift. In Hiroshima and Nagasaki he demanded that world powers renounce their nuclear arsenals. Francis declared that the use and possession of atomic bombs is an immoral crime.
As he stood before survivors of the 1945 U.S. atomic bombings, he denounced the frightening and steady erosion of arms control agreements. He was obviously moved as he heard statements from people who survived the blasts. Francis urged political leaders to accept that true peace and international security cannot be built in a climate of distrust.
The Pope suggested the immoral use of nuclear weapons should be added to the Catechism of the Catholic Church. He lamented the possibility that a mad and crazy leader could use such weapons to destroy humanity. In saying that during his usual in-flight press conference on the return flight to Rome, he recalled the words of Einstein, The Fourth World War will be fought with sticks and stones.
On this January 1, let’s resolve to start and finish 2020 with peace – inner peace, peace with God, peace with our families and friends, peace with our enemies, and peace with the globe.
Let’s keep our eyes on Mary, the Mother of God, as she proclaims her peace-filled Magnificat. When the Pope was in Nagasaki, we learned about the partly disfigured head of a Madonna statue in Urakami Cathedral.
It survived the nuclear blast and had been buried in rubble. It is brought outside the Cathedral for a peaceful memorial procession each year, on the August 9 anniversary of the blast.
Today’s first reading offers a suitable blessing for us as we start the civic year.
“The LORD bless you and keep you!
The LORD let his face shine upon
you, and be gracious to you!
The LORD look upon you kindly and
give you peace!”