A Christmas prayer for peace

When will we learn that war makes it harder and harder to forgive?
Peace with justice is what the world is screaming for and longing for.

Advent candles and wreath near the altar of St Aloysius’ Church at Sevenhill. Photograph: David McMahon

By Fr Arturo Sosa, Superior General of the Jesuits

The expectation and announcement of the birth of the “Prince of Peace”, to nourish the second coming of the Saviour of the world, is an opportunity to reflect about peace and express the longing for peace that is in the hearts of so many Jesuits and so many of those who are our mission partners.

Decades ago, Pope Pius XII claimed: Nothing is lost by peace. Everything can be lost by war.” Pope Francis never tires of repeating that war is always, always, a defeat for humanity.

When we see the faces of the children in Afghanistan, or the women there who are longing for education … When we see the faces of children in Ukraine separated from their parents, living in refugee camps … When we see the faces of children in Gaza … When we see the faces of sons and daughters of Israelis killed in the Hamas attacks … When we see all of that we have to say loudly and unambiguously: “This has to stop.”

When will we learn that war achieves nothing but the build-up of hatred and resentment and the training of the next generation of warriors? When will we learn that war makes it harder and harder to forgive? When will we learn that it embitters future generations and perpetuates a cycle of hatred every year, every month, every decade?

When will we see that instead of spending billions of dollars or euros on arms … We could spend those billions on alleviating poverty. It seems we can never find the dollars or the euros to alleviate poverty and yet we can always find the money to start the next war and to build the next bomb.

When will we say: “Enough”?

When will we rise up with the poor and the excluded and the victims to not only denounce the immorality but to find ways to change it?

We can draw inspiration from saints like Francis of Assisi, Bishop Romero, Blessed Rupert Mayer or martyrs like Ignacio Ellacuría and companions, who in the face of so much injustice, violence and war, felt such aversion that they fought against them in all their dimensions.

In this context, as Christmas approaches, the Society of Jesus wants to ask itself: what can be done … how can we advocate … how can we use any resources we have in our apostolic works all over the world, to cry out for peace? Peace with justice is what the world is screaming for and longing for.

This Christmas 2023, may the Prince of Peace touch our hearts; we ask that he also touches the hearts of those who have the possibility and the responsibility to change the situation, and open themselves to the dialogue that will open the way to lasting peace.

Merry Christmas.

The original version of this article can be seen on the Jesuits.Global website.

Click here to view the video clip of Father General Arturo Sosa’s Christmas message.

Banner image of the Christmas tree at St Aloysius’ Church in Sevenhill. Photograph: David McMahon

The Vatican’s 2023 Nativity scene in St Peter’s Square honours St Francis of Assisi’s 800th anniversary. Crafted from sustainable cedar wood by sculptor Antonio Cantone, it features life-sized terracotta figures of Mary, Joseph and St Francis. Photograph: Jesuit Media.

To enquire about becoming a Jesuit in Australia, contact vocations@sjasl.org.au and for more info, visit our Vocations page.