The words of the prophet Isaiah speak of consolation; they voice the sigh of relief of a people in exile, weary of violence and oppression, exposed to indignity and death. The prophet Baruch had wondered: “Why is it, O Israel, why is it that you are in the land of your enemies, that you are growing old in a foreign country, that you are defiled with the dead, that you are counted among those in Hades?” (3:10-11). For the people of Israel, the coming of the messenger of peace meant the promise of a rebirth from the rubble of history, the beginning of a bright future.
Today the path of peace, which Saint Paul VI called by the new name of integral development,  remains sadly distant from the real lives of many men and women and thus from our human family, which is now entirely interconnected. Despite numerous efforts aimed at constructive dialogue between nations, the deafening noise of war and conflict is intensifying. While diseases of pandemic proportions are spreading, the effects of climate change and environmental degradation are worsening, the tragedy of hunger and thirst is increasing, and an economic model based on individualism rather than on solidary sharing continues to prevail. As in the days of the prophets of old, so in our own day the cry of the poor and the cry of the earth  constantly make themselves heard, pleading for justice and peace.
In every age, peace is both a gift from on high and the fruit of a shared commitment. Indeed, we can speak of an “architecture” of peace, to which different institutions of society contribute, and an “art” of peace that directly involves each one of us.  All can work together to build a more peaceful world, starting from the hearts of individuals and relationships in the family, then within society and with the environment, and all the way up to relationships between peoples and nations.
Here I wish to propose three paths for building a lasting peace. First, dialogue between generations as the basis for the realization of shared projects. Second, education as a factor of freedom, responsibility and development. Finally, labour as a means for the full realization of human dignity. These are three indispensable elements for “making possible the creation of a social covenant”,  without which every project of peace turns out to be insubstantial.