The days are getting shorter and the darkness falls sooner. We know that winter is here. It also means that our preparation for the Feast of Christmas has begun. To help us be ready for the birth of the Savior, every year our liturgy committee suggests a theme. This year the committee has chosen the following words of Scripture as our theme: “May the God of Peace make you perfectly holy!” What an appropriate theme for this Advent Season! By one count there are forty-one wars raging in different parts of the world. More than ever we need the Prince of Peace to reign in our hearts and in our world.
The name of Jesus is identical with peace. In his Letter to the Ephesians, Paul goes so far as to say, “He is our peace.” In Himself, Jesus has reconciled heaven and earth, the eternal and the temporal, the divine and the human. Through His death and resurrection He has reconciled sinful humanity with the Father. In Ephesians 2:14-18 Paul writes:
For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace, and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to deatha their hostility. He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.
When Christ was born, the angels sang: “Glory to God in the highest and peace to people of good will.” During His public life both his words and actions ushered in a reign of peace wherein the lame and the blind, the poor and the oppressed, the sinful and the sorrowful, found a haven of love. Just prior to his death, he announced: “My peace I give you, my peace I leave with you. But my peace is not the kind that the world gives…” In all His Easter appearances the greeting of the Risen Lord was the same: “Peace be with you!”
We become holy by accepting into our lives the peace that Christ is. What is peace? It is the anti-thesis of turmoil, unrest, violence. Why or when do we lack peace? Peace deserts us when we are weighed down by guilt and regret, when we are afraid or when we feel rejected and unloved. In Him we know that we are accepted; in Him we know that we are loved; in Him we know that we are forgiven.
The world may reject us and some people may dislike or make us feel unlovable. Jesus loves us no matter what. He says to us: “I do not call you slaves. I call you friends. I have loved you with an everlasting love. I knew you before you were born.” We are often filled with fear and worry. Hurt by life experiences, we wonder what hurdle the next turn in the road will place before us. The Master calms us down with His words: “Do not be afraid for I have conquered sin and death. I am with you till the end of time. I will not leave you orphans.” As we grow older, we are weighed down by the sins of our past. We can also be filled with regret. To us the Compassionate Shepherd gives us the assurance: “There is more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than ninety-nine righteous who have no need of repentance. I am the Good Shepherd. Go in peace. Your sins are forgiven.”
May this Advent Season help us to find our peace in the Babe of Bethlehem! Having tasted His peace, we need to share that peace with others. Having felt His acceptance, we should offer acceptance to others. Having been forgiven, we need to forgive. Having been reassured, we should be a source of comfort to our brothers and sisters. If Jesus is our peace, we need to become peace for the world.
I would like to suggest the Peace Prayer attributed to St Francis of Assisi as our prayer of choice for this time of waiting:
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
Where there is sadness, joy.
O Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; and
it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
May you have a peaceful and fruitful Advent Season!
Born in India to deeply-committed Catholic parents, Fr Britto is one of seven children. He joined the Salesians of Don Bosco as a young man and was ordained a priest in 1981.
After he completed his priestly formation and his early education in India, he came to the US for his graduate degree in Journalism at...Read more...