Tuesday, December 24, 2013

The Mystery of the Peace of Christmas

[I posted this last summer, and it's worth repeating now.]

They dress the wound of my people as though it were not serious. 'Peace, peace,' they say, when there is no peace. (Jer. 6:14)

We live in a very broken world.  Perpetual war, rule by a plutocracy, usury and taxes that crush the common folk, pornography, a culture in free fall, attacks on the family, abortion - and on and on.

But most folks, even in the Church, keep blithely saying, "Peace!  Peace!" when there is no peace.  Or worse yet, "Why can't we all just get along?" - as if the things that make for turmoil are insignificant and the problem is with those who suffer and complain about it.

There is no peace today and there was no peace for the Holy Family.  Christmas came in a panic - an untimely and precipitous delivery when there was no room at the inn, and was followed by a flight into Egypt to avoid the bloodthirsty brutality of Herod - Herod the icon of "Pro-choice" leaders, hungering after the slaughter of innocents.

And yet somehow every Christmas - or at least once during Advent - there comes that indescribable moment - that moment of stillness, silence and peace.  "Silent Night", "O Little Town of Bethlehem" and other beautiful hymns touch upon this holy awe.

Everyone has felt it - atheists, Jews, Buddhists.  There is a magical stillness and a pure calm, a still and steady light burning in the darkness, even in the midst of the secular orgy of commercialism and rushing about we call Christmas the Holidays.  It's there.  It's a foretaste of the Peace of Christ that we receive only fully in the Kingdom, and it is not anything like the false peace of this world.

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. - (John 14:27

God grants us this grace at some unexpected moment every Advent or Christmas - He grants it even to those who most despise Him.  It is the enduring gift of the Nativity, of the entry into the world of our sinless Savior, the child who shall lead us (Is. 11:6), and, though quiet and easy to miss, it is very real.

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