Advent-ually Week 4: Longing for Peace
Welcome back to our Advent homily series we call Advent-ually. Adventually is a play on the word eventually. For the last three weeks we have spoken about how we all long for love, hope, and joy and how we eventually hope to somehow achieve love, hope and joy, so that we might have the best Christmas ever and eventually also experience love, hope, and joy in eternal life with our loving God. If you are curious about how to capture a bit of love, hope, and joy in your life I encourage you to go back to those homilies which you can find on our website, saintmary.life. You will find them there in both text and audio.
It is a fact that we not only long for love, hope, and joy, we long for peace. As the famous Catholic composer Lucien Deiss (Luchen Des) once wrote: “My Soul is longing for your peace, near to you my God.” (Psalm 131) “My Soul is longing for your peace, near to you my God.” That is one of the things we long for when it comes to Christmas, a sense of peace that comes from being near to the Lord.
If you look through the Christmas cards and letters you recently received, it would be a good bet that no word appears more often in them than peace. And a number of cards use the biblical announcement sung by angels to the shepherds of Bethlehem: Glory to God in the highest, and on earth, peace to people of good will!
In some cards, Jesus is referred to as Prince of Peace. Along with news of children and grandchildren, some of the letters enclosed with cards probably expressed the hope that 2022 will be more peaceful than 2021.
Peace. Apart from the rare psychopath, a deep longing for peace is something we all share: a world without war, a world in which no one starves to death, a world in which children are safe, a world without poisoned air and water….
Yes, sometimes life can seem bleak. Most of us have more medical tests in our future than in our past, more tears to come than we’ve already shed. It may seem to you that your carefree days never last long enough.
Some of us worry about being alone. Will we spend our lives by ourselves? Others worry about family. Will our marriage get better? We’re afraid for our children. Will they turn out like we hope? We’re afraid that our parents are growing old. How are we going to care for them? We worry about our health. Some of us are growing old too. Life may be hard. The world can seem dark. The state of the world may lead us to pessimism. So many bad things happen that we become numb to the suffering of others. Maybe you spend most of your life hoping for a better day and a better world. Wow.
If you ever watch the news, you know, our world is full of chaos, hurt and unrest. It is the direct result of the sin and brokenness that separates us from our Creator. But by God’s grace, on that first Christmas so long ago, the Prince of Peace entered our world to rescue and redeem us, restoring our relationship to the Father. It’s important to remember that Jesus never promised us a life without trouble on this side of heaven. There will be heartache, pain, injustice, grief. But through Christ, we can have peace. We can know peace. And we can have the gift of eternal life.
If you are searching for peace this Advent, look no further than the free gift given to us through the birth of Jesus. Redemption, salvation and peace only come through faith in Jesus Christ. It is a gift, and all you have to do is receive it. There’s nothing you can do to earn it. Believe, accept the gift, and live the way Jesus teaches us to live.
That’s the funny thing about gifts. By definition, a gift is something you cannot give yourself. It is given willingly, without payment. Jesus is the perfect gift. This Christmas, will you receive the greatest Gift ever given to humanity?
As we prepare for Christmas, this last Sunday of Advent invites us to dream of the peace God promises. Every now and then we catch a glimpse: when a young father takes his newborn daughter into his arms for the first time, when a troubled couple falls in love again, when a family makes a pilgrimage to the bedside of a dying loved one and feels an unexplainable peace, when a single woman or man comes home to their solitary dwelling, not as a place of emptiness, but as a nest sheltered under the wing of God, when the lights that surround Christmas shine into the darkest places in our lives, when followers of Christ courageously seek peace. God invites us to believe in this child Jesus and the person he grew up to be, to believe in the power of God to bring light into our darkness and peace to our world.
The last line of the gospel today says “Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled.” Do you want to be blessed by peace, a peace the world cannot give. . . then believe.
If the answer is peace to the question, what is it that you long for, then the answer is a person, a who, not a what because the the first reading from the prophet Micah told us: “One who is to be ruler in Israel; whose origin is from of old, from ancient times. . . his greatness shall reach to the ends of the earth; he shall be peace.” The Lord, Jesus Christ, He — shall — be — peace.
God’s kingdom, found on the two commandments of love, will be a kingdom of peace for it is based on true love of God and neighbor. Like the Jews, of the prophet Micah’s time, we are aware that God has promised us the kingdom of heaven where we will have eternal happiness and peace. How many of us are willing to bear the trials of this life and shun illicit gains and pleasures for the sake of that happy, eternal future? The ways of God are mysterious but surely the ways of sinful people who are willing to throw away everlasting happiness, for the sake of a passing pleasure, are more mysterious still. Believe in the one who is peace and align your life to God’s will. There you will find peace.
“My Soul is longing for your peace, near to you my God.” That is one of the things we long for when it comes to Christmas, a sense of peace that comes from being near to the Lord. Will you Adventually have peace?
Whether 2021 has been a year filled with great joy for you, or a year of unspeakable grief and pain, I pray you find peace through the Prince of Peace, whose birth we celebrate in just a few days.
Those are all the things we want you to know today.
This is what we would like for you to you do:
We want you to come to Mass on Christmas, bring your family, bring a friend to experience a lot of love, hope, joy, and peace. The peace only Jesus Christ can give.