The Spirit descends on Jesus after he was baptized. It is the Spirit that anoints Jesus to “open the eyes of the blind, to bring out prisoners from confinement, and from the dungeon, those who live in darkness, and to bring to the poor the good news of salvation.” This news is also “the good news of peace”: The Spirit comes in the form of a dove.
There is a gentleness about the dove that has earned for this bird a universal association with peace. But the dove also has a wail that reminds one of the wail of someone suffering, as in poverty or childbirth. The dove, therefore, joins together the themes of justice and peace, of compassion for the poor as well as harmony among people.
Luke makes clear that the descent of the Spirit in the form of a dove takes place as Jesus was at prayer. In other words, Jesus was open to the action of the Spirit. There is certainly a message in that for us.
Peace and justice will enter our lives only if we are open to the action of the Spirit, if we make time and space for the voice from heaven to be heard within our hearts. If we make that time and space, then “the Lord will bless his people with peace.”
In order that the demands of justice may be met and attempts to achieve this goal may succeed, what is needed is the gift of grace, a gift which comes from God. Grace, in cooperation with human freedom, constitutes that mysterious presence of God in history which is providence.
Pope John Paul II, Centesimus Annus, 1991: 59