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4 March

Fr Joaquin works to help young people embrace a culture of peace.

You must therefore be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.

Matthew 5:48

Be perfect. Not aim high, be pretty good, or give it your best shot. Just be perfect.

If you’re like me, you may be feeling a little disheartened by Jesus’ direct and challenging words. Be perfect. Love your enemies. Pray for those who persecute you.

However, alongside the challenge is a promise: “In this way you will be children of your Father in heaven”. As we learn to break the cycle of evil with the power of good, we are liberated to live as children of God. All of us human beings are children of the one whom Jesus called “Father”, the one who “makes his sun rise on bad people as well as good, and his rain to fall on the honest and dishonest alike.”

Father Joaquin is a Jesuit priest who lives in Magdalena Medio in western Colombia. With an internal armed conflict lasting over 50 years, many Colombians know violence at first hand. The peace agreement signed by the Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces (FARC) guerrilla group in 2016 was a historic step, but the conflict still casts a long shadow, as there are other armed actors.

Father Joaquin works alongside our partners, the Development and Peace Programme (PDP), focusing on working with secondary schools to try to break the cycle of violence and promote a culture of peace. Owing to their country’s painful history, most of the young people he accompanies reject armed conflict.

“The Church wants reconciliation to be encouraged and lived out. It wants peace to be effective, felt and alive,” he explains.

We can only strive for perfection, not reach it, but let’s take inspiration from Father Joaquin and try to be bearers of peace and reconciliation at home, in our communities and in the wider world.

Lent prayer

God of peace,
we pray for those who suffer
because of violence and conflict.
Make us a people of peace,
bringing hope to our wounded world.


Today, pray for the thousands of young Catholics from across the country who are coming together for Catholic youth event Flame 2023.They will be hearing from CAFOD partner Jenny about caring for our common home in the Colombian Amazon.

Find out more about how young people can get involved in the work of CAFOD, and let the young people in your family and parish know.

For young people

Learn more, raise awareness, take action, fundraise and pray with us to make a real difference.