A man took his son to the top of a mountain and showed him everything around. He pointed out the trees, the flowers, the expansive sky above, and the tiny houses below.
He told his son there was something else down there as well and asked if he could see it? The boy screwed up his eyes, and looked and looked, yet could still only see the distance.
And the father said, “There is peace down there. Can’t you feel it? Look hard, and do not forget it….”
The child looked up at his father and said, “What is peace?”
What is peace? Is it an idea you have when there is a war on, to make you fight well? Or an idea that gets lost when there is not a war?”
We all need peace in our lives. Not to fight well, but to live well.
Words like suicide bombers are in the news every day. Our nation is still fighting a war. So what were the angels thinking when they sang, “Peace on earth….”
What is this peace of Christ? What does it mean? Perhaps St. Paul explains it best when he says, quite simply, “Christ is our peace.” It was through Him that God was pleased to reconcile to Himself all things, making peace by the blood of His cross. Jesus’ peace is not just the absence of war; His peace is deeper than that.
It is a peace the world cannot give. It is the presence of God within you, all around you, a sharing in the life of God’s only son.
This peace of Christ can coexist with war and hatred. This coexistence Christ predicted; “I have said this to you, that in Me you may find peace. In the world you find suffering, but have courage, I have conquered the world.” But for the Christian, coexistence with the world’s troubles is not enough. We do not clutch the peace of Christ and just endure the world’s distress.
You come here every week, and you receive Christ. His life flows through you like another bloodstream. It is the same Christ that tells us to spread His peace. Christ came to make other Christs, other peacemakers.
Usually, we say that world problems begin at home, and they do. The greedy child who gets what he wants is in training for the greedy corporation, which gets what it wants, no matter the human cost.
A family, or school, or neighborhood that nourishes hatred instead of love poisons the very air and makes peace impossible, divided. The battling family does not prepare the children for the battles of life but conditions them to violence. It makes them think that the way to solve problems is not to talk, to listen, to give a little….but to scream, and fight! We might not think of our family as violent because we do not use weapons, but we forget that the Book of Wisdom tells us that the tongue is more dangerous than the sword.
If a word of peace is spoken, it has to be through the mouth of a human. If the wounds of the world are touched, it is through our hands. If the needs of the earth are responded to, it is because we have seen them with our eyes and heard them with our ears.
Today we begin our preparation for the birth of the Prince of Peace. It may be a good time to ask ourselves a few questions: What wars have you ended in your own backyard? What mines of envy or hate, or discord or dislike, have you diffused? Who hurts less because you love more? Or, who hurts more because you love less? Who was depressed, but has come alive at your touch? Who is hungry for food or affection, and is fed by your faith? Who thirsts for justice, and feels more human because you are there? Who experiences God’s absence, and finds the image of God in your face?
It is indeed a paradox, that if you want to feel the peace of Christ, you must also give it away. The night that Christ was born the angels sang, “Peace on Earth.” And two thousand years later there is still so much violence in the world. Is it God’s fault?
No, He never fails.
We do not have to go to a mountaintop to find peace. We find it in our relationship with God. As St. Paul says, Christ is our peace. We find peace by nurturing relationships with God and those around us. It is an old, worn sentiment we have heard many times, but it is true, and I paraphrase…. If there is to be peace on earth, and at school, work, in our families and church, it has to begin with me.