Beacons of peace

Jesus, Pope Francis show by example the keys to a peaceful world

There was probably plenty of junk mail in your mental inbox Sunday. Lots going on around you with the Easter holiday and the refreshing spring weather, and an unusually big programming night on television.

But there are several invaluable, universal and timeless messages from Sunday that we’d like you to take on your journey – maybe for the entirety of your trek.

The first – delivered by newly installed Pope Francis – is that peace is something that needs to be in the forefront of our minds, every day.

The 20th century was undoubtedly humanity’s bloodiest. With the dawning of the 21st century, the capacity to kill large numbers of people is only increasing; merely witness the undeterred nuclear ambitions in Iran and North Korea. And hatred continues to be on the march in the Mideast.

It is profound that the pope, as the Associated Press noted, “aimed his Easter greetings at ‘every house and every family, especially where the suffering is greatest, in hospitals, in prisons.’” Peace begins at home, with each of us. World peace is a cathedral built stone by stone.

Keep that in your heart as you move through each of your days.

It’s fitting, too, that the pope prayed in his Easter message that Jesus would stir us to “change hatred into love, vengeance into forgiveness, war into peace.”

Such things, as numbingly difficult as they can be, are choices we can make – as individuals, communities and nations.

That’s the transformative power of the Easter message – retold so compellingly in the History Channel’s landmark miniseries that ended Sunday night.

The sensitive and dutiful depiction of Christ’s Passion – particularly his torture and death on the cross – was almost too much to bear watching. But even those who had to turn away no doubt felt it in their hearts.

The Easter message is many-fold. It’s one of sacrifice. Forgiveness. Redemption. The surprising strength and courage of meekness. Love. Faith. And the most important hope imaginable – the hope of new life.

Each Jan. 1 our thoughts drift toward renewal and the opportunities of a full year’s calendar with nothing yet inscribed on it. But in truth – as Easter demonstrates much more deeply than the turn of a new year – each day is a fresh start, a beginning – and potentially a new life. Each day is a chance to choose our path. Each day, every one of us participates in writing history – our own, and that of our time.

Think about the majesty of sacrifice and service – so lastingly exemplified by the passion of Christ, and so beautifully epitomized by Pope Francis’ controversial decision to wash the feet of 12 juvenile prison inmates on Holy Thursday, two of them women and two Muslim.

His actions rankled traditionalists. Then again, Jesus did plenty of his own rankling, didn’t he?

Whatever you think of the pope’s boldness, don’t let it obscure his message of sacrifice and servanthood – the same one embodied by Jesus. It’s difficult to imagine we’d have much to worry about in the world if everyone followed that example.

It might just constitute the beginnings of the world peace the pope is talking about.

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