“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” ~ Luke 2:14
In today’s 1st Reading from the Book of Micah (5:1-4) the Old Testament prophet, in his foreshadowing of Jesus, concludes that “…his greatness shall reach to the ends of the earth; he shall be peace.” (5:4). This notion of Jesus as “peace personified,” for lack of a better term, is a constant theme throughout Scripture. Jesus holds nothing back, giving all to those who love him, those who hate him too for that matter. Nowhere is this more evident than on the cross, but we see it all throughout his ministry. Upon visiting his Apostles in the upper room directly on the heels of his Resurrection for instance, in a moment where he could have said any one of a number of things, Jesus simply says to them “Peace be with you.”
Jesus desires so greatly to give this restless world in the year 2021 the same peace, a peace that comes not from the world or the things of it, but from him and him alone. Happiness, a largely misused and misunderstood word to being with, without peace is temporal; peace along with happiness on the other hand is eternal.
In his general audience address on December 19, 2001, Pope John Paul II greeted those on hand with the following words: “We should be converted to peace; we should be converted to Christ, our peace, certain that his disarming love in the crib overcomes every dire threat and plan for violence. With confidence we need to continue to ask the child, born of the Virgin Mary for us, that the enormous energy of his peace might drive out the hatred and revenge that lurk in the human soul.”
In what can only be called a tragic paradox of the human condition, God offers us love and life; we often choose conflict and death.
It's easy to look at the things of this world to solve our challenges and obstacles. In fact it’s usually the first place we do look. As fallen creatures, this is part of our flawed way of thinking. But when we submit our lives to Christ, his grace, his mercy, and his love will bring true fulfillment and peace into our lives.
You can’t fake peace. Those devoid of it are spotted more easily than a bad toupee. They are filled with wrath and jealously. They demean, use, and bully others to compensate for their disharmony and inner turmoil. We are called to be instruments of Christ’s peace as Saint Francis of Assisi so famously proclaimed in a prayer that many of you know and no doubt recite from time to time.
In Pope John Paul II’s previously aforementioned 2001 address, he would go on to encourage those in attendance to “Make our prayer more intense and more persistent. ‘Christus est pax nostra’ - Christ is our peace. May his peace redo every angle of our daily lives. May he fill our hearts so that they will be open to the transforming action of his grace; may he pervade families so that, gathered before the crib or around the Christmas tree, they may reinforce their faith full communion; may his peace reign in cities, in nations and in the international community and spread to every corner of the globe.”
May God penetrate your heart this Advent Season, coming into your world and filling your life with the sublime gift of his peace.