Cardinal Parolin: 'Prayer never useless, it can change hearts and minds'
By Christopher Wells
“We are here this evening to implore from God the gift of peace in Ukraine,” said Cardinal Petro Parolin on Wednesday evening, “and to ask Him to help every man and woman of goodwill to be a craftsman of peace.”
The Vatican’s Cardinal Secretary of State made the remarks in his homily during Mass celebrated in St Peter’s Basilica on Wednesday evening, with members of the diplomatic corps present in the congregation.
Peacemakers resemble God
In his homily, Cardinal Parolin said those who work for peace resemble God, calling to mind the beatitude, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God.” At the same time, he recalled the reality of the ongoing war in Ukraine, where “rivers of blood and tears are flowing.”
“if we are here to pray for peace,” the Cardinal said, “it is because we are convinced that prayer is never useless.” He invited those present to “revive this certainty” that through prayer God can change hearts and minds.”
The glory of God passes through the Cross
Cardinal Parolin said the day’s Gospel – which shows the Apostles James and John seeking to sit at Jesus’ side in His kingdom – illustrates “two different logics, two different glories: the glory of God, which passes through the Cross, and the glory of men, which is a quest for worldly success and power.”
Jesus, he said, wants to show us, as He showed the Apostles, that true greatness comes through humble service to others, “following the example of Him who came not to be served to be served.”
Conflict is a spiritual problem
The first reading, which shows the enemies of Jeremiah plotting against him, is the opposite of this, and shows that the problem of conflict and war is not primarily political or economic, but spiritual.
And, he said, it is on the spiritual level that the words of Jesus to His followers – “it shall not be so among you” – truly resonates. “The believer, by his word and by his life, testifies that the glory of God is not to oppress, but exactly the opposite; and it is that glory that truly fills the world with beauty, with goodness and peace.”
More concretely, Cardinal Parolin recalled the words of Pope St John XXIII, who in his encyclical Pacem in terram (“Peace on Earth”) pointed out four conditions for building peace in human history: respect for the truth; the tension towards justice; fraternal love that shuns violence; and freedom that excludes suffocating imposition.”
Peace, the legacy of Christ
Finally, calling to mind the Lord’s words at the Last Supper, “I leave you peace, my peace I give you,” Cardinal Parolin said that peace was Jesus’ legacy. For this reason, he said, “The disciple of Jesus never loses hope.” He added, “Those who seriously love the peace of Christ; those who, amidst a thousand obstacles and a thousand oppositions, bear witness to it, who every day in prayer ask the Lord for true peace to reign, effectively contribute, at least a little, to making the earth more merciful, and more human.”
Cardinal Parolin concluded his homily with a prayer for peace, which concluded, “Lord Jesus, Prince of Peace… you who are the Creator of the world, save this earth from the destruction of widespread death; let the weapons be silent; and let the sweet breeze of peace resound. Lord of hope, have mercy on this deaf humanity, and help it find the courage to forgive.”