When I read the annual Urbi et Orbi message of Pope Francis, to the diocese of Rome and the world, for Easter Sunday 2024 there were many special places, names, words, thoughts and feelings that touched a chord with me. But one sentence made me stop and consider. Peace is never made with arms, but with outstretched hands and open hearts.   Of course the word arms is often used when we mean weapons, and “weapons” does sound stronger, more violent and dangerous.  Arms should possibly be restricted and used in a different sense, personal and human arms that embrace and hold another body close, so as to experience the beating of two hearts together in love.   An ideal reality and example could be a loving couple, a parent-child, even an elderly person or grandparents with children.

Close to home or far away, on the battlefields of the world, Gaza, Ukraine, Sudan and more, outstretched hands and open hearts are needed, but warm embracing arms are needed too to bring the more human touch of love to those in need.   Pope Francis mentions the wars, the ongoing local conflicts, the trafficking, migrants and the poor in his message, not to forget the suffering of children.            

Can the memory of the cruelty of killing for political gain eventually be forgotten by soldiers and any killing of innocent lives by combatants, aggressors and even defenders?  Can killing in anger by perpetrators be lived down?  Can they be forgiven except by God?  Jesus asked his Father to forgive those who killed him, “they know not what they do?”   The Father does forgive and invites us, – are we not all victims, – to do the same in the long battle for peace on earth in every place and in every home.    
“May the light of the resurrection illumine our minds and convert our hearts, and make us aware of the value of every human life, which must be welcomed, protected and loved.” From Urbi et Orbi.  

Outstretched hands are helping hands, reaching out, away from a body, towards someone or something, ideally to help, offer support and comfort or even give a handout to a beggar.   Maybe outstretched hands allow a little distance to be maintained.  I know, don’t we all know, how awkward and difficult it can be to reach out and touch an injured and wounded, bloodied and broken body.  I am thinking of our paramedics, other medical staff and police who have had to climb down a steep ravine in a remote area of South Africa to rescue one little girl, the sole survivor of a horrific accident when a bus on its way to a religious Easter service plunged off a bridge and down into the ravine.  Forty-five passengers died and their bodies must be recovered with difficulty and quite some risk. This is just one of the usual number of fatalities on our roads.  We are also told that alcohol consumption has been responsible for a number of accidents, as well as reckless driving and unsafe vehicles.  Where were the open hearts, considering the welfare of others at all times.  

May the arms of war become the arms of love and peace.   Grant us the courage to make it so.   TR

MARFAM’s theme develops the 2024 theme OUR WORLD, A FAMILY OF FAMILIES from a particular angle.  As it is Eastertime for April the theme is GOD AND FAMILY/GOD IS FAMILY. There is a growing focus on God’s love and God as love today, especially in writings of Pope Francis.  See April overview on  Pope Francis: God is a family. The triune God is a communion of love and the family is its living reflection. Our God in his deepest mystery is not solitude but a family, for he has within himself fatherhood, sonship and the essence of the family which is love. That love in the divine family is the Holy Spirit.  AL 11. Within the family which could be called a domestic church individuals enter upon an ecclesial experience of communion among persons which reflects, through grace, the mystery of the Holy Trinity. AL86.     


April 3. Wednesday of Easter week.  Peter shared in his group, “I’ve often thought about those two strangers on the road, they don’t have names but they have played an intriguing and important role throughout the history of the Church. I’ve also thought of them as a pair, maybe they were a couple, maybe they even had their kids with them and imagine how they enjoyed having Jesus walk and talk with them.   We should also do that more often, have a Family Talk Walk.”            

Reflect, share, pray, Scripture:  Jesus said to the two men, “O foolish men, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” And beginning with Moses he interpreted to them the Scriptures. “Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the scriptures? Luke 24:13-35   Pope Francis: We are constantly reminded that each of those who live with us merits complete attention since he or she possesses infinite dignity as an object of the Father’s immense love. AL323   Action. How does a Family Talk Walk as a parish activity grab you?