Following the tradition by his predecessors, Popes Paul VI and John Paul II, Pope Benedicts XVI has issued a message of peace for today, the first day of January 2006. Our greetings then to one another “Happy New Year” must include our desire to be with the Holy Father in praying and witnessing for peace, not only today but throughout the coming year.
The theme chosen for this year’s reflection is “In Truth, Peace”. This theme “express the conviction that wherever and whenever men and women are enlightened by the splendor of truth, they naturally set out on the path of peace.” St. Augustine described peace as tranquillitas ordinis, the tranquility of order. By this St. Augustine meant a situation which ultimately enables the truth about man to be truly respected and realized”. Hence, the way of peace and the way to peace is by respecting the truth about man, i.e., the truth about the persons I am leading or in contact with. In this way I will learn how to be in right relationship with him/her. Respect for the truth of a person produces a peaceful relationship with him/her.
The Holy Father wrote: “Any authentic search for peace must begin with the realization that the problem of truth and untruth is the concern of every man and woman; it is decisive for the peaceful future of our planet.” Wars and production of weapons, acts of terrorism, violations of human rights, disturbance of harmonious coexistence; these have their source in untruth or false beliefs about man. “The truth of peace calls upon everyone to cultivate productive and sincere relationships; it encourages them to seek out and to follow the paths of forgiveness and reconciliation, to be transparent in their dealings with others, and to be faithful to their word.” All kinds and all manners of lies are likely to disturb peaceful relations of people to one another. “Lying is linked to the tragedy of sin and its perverse consequences, which have had, and continue to have, devastating effects on the lives of individuals and nations.”
Pope Benedict XVI continues his message: “If peace is to be authentic and lasting, it must be built on the bedrock of the truth about God and truth about man. This truth alone can create sensitivity to justice and openness to love and solidarity, while encouraging everyone to work for a truly free and harmonious human family. The foundations of authentic peace rest on the truth about God and man.”
At this point in time, in our country, if we want to work for national renewal and transformation, if we want peace in our social and political relationships, we must make every effort to value and to witness to truth. This is very basic in human transaction. Truth is the foundation of integrity, credibility and accountability. The opposite is true: lies destroy integrity, credibility and accountability. Truth builds, untruth destroys. We can apply this to simple friendship, family and community relationship, social order. Parents, businessmen, leaders in all levers of society must build their integrity and credibility on the bedrock of truth. This is how to build peace. “In truth, peace.”
+ANGEL N. LAGDAMEO, DD
January 5, 2006