For 2024, the Bishops of Malta and Gozo are proposing that as a country, and as Christians, we ought to reflect on the five gifts of God that Dun Karm Psaila, the national poet, reminds us of in Malta’s national anthem: sound judgement, mercy, health, unity and peace. This reflection is particularly significant as this year, Malta celebrates 60 years of independence and 50 years as a republic.

Dun Karm prays for five gifts in Malta’s National Anthem.  He prayed for sound judgement, he prayed for mercy, for health, for unity, and for peace.

In my fifth reflection during this Lent, I wish that we would stop to remember and think about the beautiful gift of serenity, or of peace. Let us remember that we are getting closer to Good Friday and the Lord’s Easter and let us also remember that the greeting of the Risen Lord is one: “Peace be with you!” (Jn 20:19). Peace be with you! St George Preca taught his disciples to greet each other with this greeting. This greeting became part of our vocabulary amongst our lovely, Maltese traditions, ‘peace be with you’. We sometimes say it even when we forgive each other, in a reconciliatory way. Peace does not come from words or the mouth but must first start in my heart. I cannot wish you peace, my dear brother, my dear sister, if I have no peace. Nobody gives what he or she does not have.

The invitation the priest extends to us in every Mass before we receive Holy Communion is an important invitation: ‘Give each other a sign of peace’ However, before he says this, he reminds us of what Jesus said, “My peace I give you” (Jn 14:27). Peace, and Dun Karm insists on this, is always a gift of the Lord. We can ask ourselves, although perhaps there is no need to, ‘Do we need peace? Do we need peace in the world to end war? Do we need to be at peace with one another? Do we need peace in our families and our hearts?’ If unity is beautiful, peace is very much so. Brothers and sisters, an immensely rich man who has no peace is a person—I will not go so far as to say a desperate person—but definitely a poor one because he who has no peace, no matter what circumstances he finds himself in, is bathed in the greatest riches and greatest blessing that the Lord can give.

Today, as we approach the beautiful feasts of Holy Week and enter Jesus’ school of love, let us pray for our country, and for each one of us to have the gift of peace. My greeting as I end these reflections inspired by the five gifts Dun Karm prayed would be bestowed upon us and our country is Jesus’ own: peace be with you.

✠ Charles Jude Scicluna
    Archbishop of Malta