Peace on Earth - A Reflection on the Nativity
At this special time of the Christian year, we thrill to hear the story of the birth of Christ. St. Luke's account of the Angel's announcement of this good news to the shepherds closes with these words:" And suddenly there was with the Angel a multitude of the heavenly army, praising God, and saying: "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth, peace to men of good will" (Luke 2:14)
This 'peace' was not a dream of the angels. It was a real message from God to man. It was the embodiment of a divine and providential plan for human life.
This plan was for charity and justice among all people, for as the great apostle of Gentiles wrote to the people of Corinth, "...God is not the God of dissension but of peace." (I Corinthians 14:33)
It was a solemn promise that God renewed when his Son appeared in the midst of men. Only our sins could destroy that peace which never can be assured to those who make their 'lifetime sins' a stumbling block on this divine highway to heaven.
With the spectacle of warring nations before us in these present days, we are tempted to despair; yet the day of hope is on its way. On that day, even the greatest sinner will listen to St. Paul saying, "For the rest, brethren, rejoice, be perfect, take exhortation, be of one mind, have peace, and the God of peace and of love will be with you " (2 Corinthians 13:11).
This peace among men was a gift of God. It was a gift that "surpassed all understanding". But like every gift, it could be subject to abuse. It could also be misunderstood, sold out, broken and betrayed. In fact, peace has been subjected to all these. There have always been men and women who were anxious to conceal their real will and befoul this peace-gift from God. They came, the little and the great, the leaders and the led, often without power or influence, but also always without compassion, trying to persuade their respective generations that peace was just a dream of the angels and of Christ. They have come in every generation, and the present is no exception
But peace was a promise and not a dream! It was a solemn promise that God renewed when His Son appeared in the midst of men. We read this in the Acts of the Apostles: "God sent the word to the children of Israel preaching peace by Jesus Christ" (Acts 10:36). Only the sins of men could destroy it, and men have tried ever since.
There is in every person a desire for peace in his own soul. There is the desire for peace with man; there is the desire for peace with God. To have it, we must listen and obey, and become hopeful and courageous. We must believe with the supreme faith of St. Paul, "I can do all things in Him who strengthens me" (Philippians 4:13).
It is in this strength of Christ that we find our peace. It is only in His principles of charity and justice that it can be bought, and then men of good will become men of God's will.
Beginning with this Christmas Day, men and women of good will, cultivate peace in your hearts with God and with your fellow human beings. Millions of such hearts will make peace in the nation and in the world. To you, men and women of good will, consider the advice of the Blessed Augustine to the early Christians: "This peace, the very name of which you so love and cherish, go after it, desire it, love it in your homes, in your wives, in your children, in your servants, in your friends and in your enemies".
+ METROPOLITAN NICHOLAS
Editors Note: The above reflection was gleaned from the Archpastoral Letter of His Eminence, Metropolitan Nicholas for the Feast of the Nativity In the Year 2002.
Indeed may the virtues of peace and hope be reborn in our hearts this Nativity and Theophany Season.