HE SHALL BE PEACE
“He shall be peace.” These words, which conclude today’s First Reading from the Prophet Micah, are fulfilled in Jesus, the Prince of Peace. (Cf. Isaiah 9:5, the First Reading from the Christmas Midnight Mass) It is his coming into the world that we celebrate at Christmas. He was born when the whole world was at peace, according to the ancient announcement of Christ’s birth found in the Roman Martyrology and proclaimed at the beginning of the Midnight Mass. (See below) In his farewell discourse to the apostles at the Last Supper, Jesus said, “‘Peace’ is my farewell to you, my peace is my gift to you; I do not give it to you as the world gives peace.” (John 14:27ab) Yet peace still eludes us and the Church prays for peace several times at every Mass. Why is this so?
Maybe the answer can be found in the statement, “I do not give it to you as the world gives peace.” In the world, peace is an external reality too often secured by military force. It depends upon keeping our enemies, whom we fear, at bay. Christ’s peace, however, is first an internal reality. It begins with a right relationship with God and from there extends to others. Fully aware of the violence he is about to suffer in his passion, Jesus says to his disciples, “Do not be distressed or fearful.” (John 14:27c) It is his gift to us in the Sacrament of Penance, also called the Sacrament of Peace or the Sacrament of Reconciliation. If you have completed your preparation for Christmas by celebrating this sacrament, then bring some peace to someone else’s life. “The gift you have received, give as a gift.” (Matthew 10:8)
There are two more opportunities for the sacrament of penance before Christmas. Our penance service will be at St. Charles this Sunday afternoon at 4:00. On Monday morning Father Miller will hear confessions at St. Charles from 10:30 until noon, and I will hear confessions at St. Peter at the same time.
THE ANNOUNCEMENT OF THE SAVIOR’S BIRTH
The twenty-fifth day of December, when ages beyond number had run their course from the creation of the world, when God in the beginning created heaven and earth, and formed man in his own likeness; when century upon century had passed since the Almighty set his bow in the clouds after the Great Flood, as a sign of covenant and peace; in thetwenty-first century since Abraham, our father in faith, came out of Ur of the Chaldees; in the thirteenth century since the People of Israel were led by Moses in the Exodus from Egypt; around the thousandth year sinceDavid was anointed King; in the sixty-fifth week of the prophecy of Daniel; in the one hundred and ninety-fourth Olympiad; in the year seven hundred and fifty-two since the foundation of the City of Rome; in the forty-second year of the reign of Caesar Octavian Augustus, the whole world being at peace, JESUS CHRIST, eternal God and Son of the eternal Father, desiring to consecrate the world by his most loving presence, wasconceived by the Holy Spirit, and when nine months had passed since his conception, was born of the Virgin Mary in Bethlehem of Judah, and was made man: The Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ according to the flesh. (From the Roman Martyrology).
Tuesday is Christmas. With the angels the Church proclaims the hymn, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to people of good will.” I find the hymns of the Christmas season to be among the most theologically profound of the entire year. They are so full of scriptural references and images. Their melodies, too, evoke the deepest emotions. Enjoy the music of this season and pay attention to the words! They are a catechism on the mystery of the incarnation and of our salvation.
Enjoy these holy holidays as you gather with family and friends. Pray for the safety of all who are traveling during these days and remember those who are far from home, especially those serving overseas. Thanks for your generosity to the poor of our community and beyond through your donations to local food pantries and to Casa Hogar.
May God bless us all this Christmas and always.