Blessed Is the People Founded on Love
BLESSED IS THE PEOPLE FOUNDED ON LOVE
Pope John Paul II
Closing Mass of Synod for Lebanon 14 December 1995
1. "Blessed is the people founded on love".
At the conclusion of the work of the Special Assembly for Lebanon of the Synod of Bishops, these words of today's liturgy, which we sang a short time ago as the refrain of the responsorial psalm, are very appropriate. In fact they seem to correspond in the best possible way to the objective that directed our work over these last weeks. The Synod Assemblies that concern the life of the Church in a nation or a continent by their very nature propose: to seek the meeting points between men, social groups and nations to found them on love.
This seems to be particularly important for the Near East, and especially for your homeland. We are well aware that Lebanon is a land rich in many religious and cultural traditions. Catholics belonging to various Eastern Churches and the Latin Church live there together with Christians from other Churches and Communities; with these there are also Muslims. For all of them Lebanon is a "common task". All need that social dimension of love that allows men to build together. And we know well how much Lebanon needs to build and rebuild, especially as a result of the sad experience of many years of war, in its search for a just peace and for security in its relations with neighboring countries.
The Second Vatican Council reminded the People of God of the tasks that the Church, and especially the lay faithful, are called to carry out in the social and political community. In fulfilling these tasks the faithful also draw their inspiration from the faith: in it they find specific and very valid reasons for committing themselves to the service of the common good of the earthly city. It is obvious how important this aspect of Christian commitment is for Lebanon, whose historical roots are of a religious nature. And it is precisely because of these religious roots of the Lebanese national and political identity that, after the sad period of war, it was desired and was possible to initiate a Synod Assembly in order to seek together the way to a renewal of faith, to greater collaboration and to a more effective common witness, without forgetting the reconstruction of society. This conviction of ours, I am sure, is also shared by our brother Christians who do not belong to the Catholic Church, as well as by Muslims.
Your ancient ancestors heard the words of Christ
2. We are now gathered around the altar in St. Peter's Basilica to give thanks to God for the gift of the Synod. The liturgy reminds us that one day, beloved Brothers of the Church in Lebanon, your ancestors were among the crowds that surrounded Jesus to listen to his teaching. In fact, St. Luke writes that there was "a great crowd of his disciples and a great multitude of people from all Judea and Jerusalem and the sea coast of Tyre and Sidon, who came to hear him and to be healed of their diseases.... And he lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said: 'Blessed are you poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. Blessed are you that hunger now, for you shall be satisfied. Blessed are you that weep now, for you shall be satisfied. Blessed are you that weep now, for you shall laugh. Blessed are you when men hate you ... on account of the Son of Man!
Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven' (Lk 6:17-23).
Your ancestors of 2,000 years ago listened to these words of Christ. But were they not also spoken for us, for the people of our time, for the Christians of today, for the Lebanon of modern times?
Do not these words of Christ contain a sort of fundamental program, in which the Assembly of the Synod of Bishops for Lebanon was to find its inspiration? Let us continue to listen to this Gospel passage, and let us try to relate it to what was said in the last few days in the Synod Hall.
We do so while remembering with emotion that once the feet of the world's Redeemer walked your land (cf. Mt 15:21-28; Mk 7:26-36), that his eyes admired its beauty. The first reading of today's liturgy, taken from the Song of Songs, makes us think of this. I wish that the Redeemer's glance, so full of love, may accompany all of you who have taken part in the Synod Assembly and also all the brothers and sisters you represent.
3. "Earnestly desire the higher gifts" (1 Cor 12:31).
Thus the Apostle writes in his First Letter to the Corinthians. On this occasion as we conclude the Synod for Lebanon, we also feel that these words of Paul are addressed to us. The Apostle thus concludes his "hymn to love": "So faith, hope, love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love" (1 Cor 13:13). And a short while before he had said, with words that we will never tire of reading and meditating on: "Love is patient and kind; love is not jealous ... it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrong.... Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things" (1 Cor 13:4-7). Yes, love is indeed like this!
We must carefully reflect on hymn to love
In proclaiming to the disciples of Corinth the truth about love, St. Paul insists on the many fruits that it is capable of bearing and that are evident not only in the lives of individuals or families, but also in the life of entire nations.
"Blessed is the people founded on love", the responsorial psalm told us. And for us, after some weeks of synodal work, these words have a particular wealth of meaning: they tell us that we must carefully reflect on the hymn to love in the Letter to the Corinthians if we want to work fruitfully for the reconstruction of Lebanon by contributing to the restoration of the spiritual and moral fabric of a society of such noble and ancient traditions.
For this reason, are we not in need of great patience? Love is patient. Is it not necessary to forget the evil suffered in so many ways? Love is not resentful. Is not a great perseverance required for this? Love bears all things. And lastly, is not a great hope necessary? Love spurs us continually to cross the threshold of hope.
Venerable and beloved brothers and sisters, may faith, hope and charity abide with you. May these three theological virtues on which the Christian life is based remain with you. But let us not forget that the greatest of all is love. Put love above all things! Amen.
Weekly Edition in English
20-27 December 1995, p. 3.
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