Homily by Auxiliary Bishop Joseph Galea-Curmi
‘Lord, make me a channel of your peace.’ This prayer comes to our heart and mind on Remembrance Sunday – a day that was established a century ago, one year after the end of the First World War, to remember the fallen. We are commemorating this day on the morrow of the thirtieth anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall – an important event that changed the course of history.
Today we remember the fallen of both World Wars and other wars that have blighted our history. We remember those who have defended their country with a strong sense of solidarity, courage, and sacrifice, and we express our gratitude to them on this special day. We also remember their families who still carry the wound of the loss they suffered.
As a people who treasure human life at all its stages, this remembrance day is a heart-rending occasion.
We must not lose the memory
The first message that I would like to convey today is that we should not lose the memory of events such as the one we are commemorating today. In the words of Pope Francis, “Memory is what strengthens a people, because it perceives its roots on its journey…Memory shows us that we are not alone, we are a people: a people who has history, a past, a life” (Homily on All Souls’ Day, 2nd November 2018).
We remember the past not to remain entrenched there, or to harbour resentment and hatred towards those who have wreaked so much destruction, but to learn from these tragic mistakes. If we forget, we not only condemn ourselves with our ingratitude towards those who came before us and lived through so much suffering, but we risk repeating the errors of history.
It is always sad to remember the great number of people who lost their lives at war. As a people who treasure human life at all its stages, this remembrance day is a heart-rending occasion. Many families were torn asunder because of the loss of a beloved member of the family during conflicts!
The second message of Remembrance Sunday is to always treasure life – from the first moment of conception until the natural end of life, at every stage, whoever this life belongs to. If we nurture this sensibility towards life, it will be reflected in our words and treatment of people. Every person is precious, even if not a co-national, or a member of our race, religion, or not of the same colour, or is different from us in some way or another. Every human life must be treasured.
No contempt should ever be shown to human life. Our contempt must be directed towards words that instil resentment or that sow the seed of hatred, the words that disrespect every human life.
If we truly desire to live in peace, we must strive for the respect of the dignity of everyone and treat them as brothers and sisters. We must also together work for the common good.
Today I forcefully reiterate the message of the Church in Malta, the message that she consistently conveys with actions and facts to always treasure every human life, as we are all created in God’s image and likeness. I invite you all here present, not to be afraid to be in favour of life by your words and actions; this is what your children’s children demand of you, so that they too will enjoy life.
Peace built on justice, integrity and truth
The third message for today is tied with our commitment for peace. Every war inflicts death and suffering. Today’s remembrance underscores our collective responsibility to make choices for peace.
I am reminded of the words of the Second Vatican Council: “Peace is not merely the absence of war; nor can it be reduced solely to the maintenance of a balance of power between enemies; nor is it brought about by dictatorship. Instead, it is rightly and appropriately called an enterprise of justice” (Gaudium et Spes, 78). If we truly desire to live in peace, we must strive for the respect of the dignity of everyone and treat them as brothers and sisters. We must also together work for the common good.
History shows us that peace must be built on justice, integrity and truth, or else all our endeavours will not be truly for peace but will serve as a smokescreen for evil and corrupt practices. Moreover, this would also attempt to neutralize those who call evil by name.
Peace that derives from the heart
Peace is also the fruit of love. It should flow from a serene heart. Let us cast a glance at social media that has become an important feature of our daily lives where so many beautiful experiences of life may be shared. Often times, it has also become the preferred medium of those who harbour hatred in their hearts and to their detriment and ours, choose to disseminate hatred to the four winds.
I invite you today to join me in prayer so that we will be channels of peace wherever we might be. Hostility, conflicts, wars, and walls that separate us all have their origins in the heart, and in order to tear down the walls around us, we need to be fearless. If the heart is at peace, if the heart is full of love and cherishes the dignity and the life of others, it will help us to build bridges and not walls between us.
While we remember with love and gratitude the fallen today, let us embrace their message to us on Remembrance Sunday – let each and every one always sow the seed of peace with a sincere prayer in our heart, ‘Lord, make me a channel of your peace.’
✠ Joseph Galea-Curmi