They name him Wonderful Counsellor, the Mighty God,
the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace.
My Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
The Peace of the Lord be with you. We often marvel at this word, peace. It is spoken about during the holiest of days and it rests upon the birth of the Christ Child. The peace of which God speaks, His Peace, is not of this world. It is of God. It is more than feeling good about an accomplishment, it is acknowledging the accomplishment was born through, with and in God. It is more than ‘putting up your feet’ sitting in the armchair after dinner with the family gathered. It is the sincere understanding that all is well because of the goodness of God.
In the Scripture of the Fourth Sunday of Advent, we hear the story of “how the birth of Christ came about.” The Scripture speaks of being at rest, listening to the whisper of God through a dream. Joseph dreams and must respond. Through Joseph’s response, God’s Peace is given to us. Jesus, in his vulnerability, relies on Joseph’s integrity and his nurturing Judaic presence and collaboration with his wife, Mary. Their sacred love brings forth the gift of a child, God among us.
This is also something for us to consider when we pray for God’s Peace—we are active participants in it. It is not just something that happens. Like Mary and Joseph and our ancestors before them, we must also say yes and live responsible, faithful caring lives so that God’s true nature is one with our own nature. The fruit of Joseph’s marriage to Mary is our very Eucharist. Joseph is critical to that Real Presence in whom we take to be with us 24, 7, 365. Joseph and Mary witness to a life in which we share!
Pope Francis said this about peace, “Peace has no borders. It is in hearts that the feelings of peace and brotherhood must be sown.” What are we doing to live this Peace? During the celebration of Mass, we are invited to offer God’s Peace to each other. What are we consciously offering? In this Peace is the gift of forgiveness. Are we truly forgiving? Have we forgiven all those with whom we encounter, even those we don’t know personally, but we bear anger because of something we heard them say? Do we offer the Peace of God’s goodness, pure and holy, to each other that will sustain us as we leave this sacred space to enter into the earth of which we continue to build His Kingdom?
What is the experience of this living Peace in our neighborhood? It is one without bullying, but respect and honor. It is a household in which we offer everything of ourselves so that God’s love may be known—we are sacrificial; we are purposeful in living for God. We give up something so that another may live. The creation of Daytona Beach’s First Step Shelter for people without homes is managed by Catholic Charities of Central Florida staff and founded through the generosity of parishioners in collaboration with various governmental bodies within Volusia County. We smile at each other on the street because each one is of God. We open the door for the person behind us. We visit the sick neighbor and bring a dish of cookies. The Handmaiden’s Circle of Blessed Sacrament Parish in Clermont make blankets for those who live in nursing homes. We tell our lost son or daughter that he/she is a child of God by the hold of our embrace even though he/she may not be following our rules. We talk about our love of each other around the dinner table and how we know God. We do these things because we have God’s love within us and we make known this inimitable love through our own presence with each other.
As you receive the Eucharist this holy season, become what you have received. Bring Peace to each other. Christmas lives because we live with its power to be and bring the Good News, glad tidings to all the people.
May His Peace be upon our heart this holy season and always. Merry Christmas.