The Prince of Peace

 

            “For a child is born to us, a son is given us; upon his shoulder dominion rests. They name him Wonder-Counselor, God-Hero, Father-Forever, Prince of Peace.  Prince of Peace.  We speak a lot about peace at Christmastime.  We sing  about a child sleeping in heavenly peace. We wish each other Christmas Peace.

 

            What is the peace that Jesus  brings?   Sadly, it must not be the absence of war.  If that were the case then Jesus’s life would have been a terrible failure.

 

            How can we understand the peace that Jesus brings?

 

            Perhaps we should consider the way that peace is presented in the Bible.  In the creation stories in Genesis, when God created the world it was a formless wasteland

with darkness covering the abyss and a mighty wind controlling the seas.  The first Divine Act that God calls good is the creation of light. The second Divine Act that God calls good is the separation of the waters into the waters above the sky and the waters on the earth.  The third action God calls good is the separation of the waters from the land. 

 

            Throughout scripture the sea is a symbol of chaos and turmoil.  God eliminates chaos and turmoil. He controls the sea.  In scripture sin is used interchangeably with chaos and turmoil. God controls the sea.  God brings order to chaos.   God conquers sin. 

 

            In the Eden story, the peace of mankind is shattered by mankind choosing materialism over the spiritual, and  selfishness over sacrificial love. This is not a quaint story about apples.  It is an explanation of our continual choice of the physical over the spiritual, chaos over peace.  The tranquility of Eden is constantly destroyed by mankind choosing to push God aside, by mankind choosing  sin.   But creation had been entrusted to mankind.  If some of us choose sin, there is another one of us who chooses God.  If some of us choose the material, there is another one of us who chooses the spiritual.  If some of us choose selfishness, there is another one of us who chooses sacrificial love.  If some of our lives add to the chaos, there is another one of us whose life brings peace.

 

            We use the phrase: “Jesus came to forgive sins” too loosely.  We use the phrase, “He is the Prince of Peace” too vaguely.  It all seems sweet, even sappy.  Jesus’ life should not be trivialized in this manner.  Jesus came as one of us to lead us towards a completely different world view.  He points us towards a mind set of self giving,

sacrificial love.  He calls us to embrace the spiritual as a greater reality than the material.  He calls us away from the  chaos of sin to the peace of the Kingdom of God.

 

            That is all very  theological, now let’s get more specific.  When I sin, when you sin, I, we, are in  chaos.  Oh sure, I can pretend that nothing is wrong.  I can pretend that I am only doing what everyone else is doing.  I can even blame the Church for putting me on a guilt trip.  And, yes, I can find noted psychologists and counselors who are willing to tell me that there is nothing wrong with my choices as long as I am happy with them.  I don’t even have to pay noted psychologists to tell me that.  For $7.95 I can find a self help book or two or ten that will affirm me no matter what I am doing.   But none of this removes my turmoil.  The  fact of the matter is that when any of us jump into sin, we plunge into chaos. 

 

            Let me illustrate this through two examples of people in chaos who come to the Church seeking comfort.

 

            A man makes a horrible choice.  He leaves his wife and children for the sake of a new and passionate love, or at least lust.  He does his best to convince himself that he is making the best choice for himself.  He even finds professionals who support his choice.  He should be happy, but when he thinks about his wife and children

and how he has forever altered the  future he could have had with his family, he realizes that his life is a mess.  He is in chaos.

 

            A young woman is forced into a horrible choice.  She allows the life within her to be destroyed because so many are telling her that it is the best thing for her to do.  Only, they don’t have to live with the result.  Perhaps these authority figures in her life carry a greater responsibility than she does for what happened, but she is the one who is suffering.  She is the one who cannot think about a child without being immersed in pain.   She is the one  who is in turmoil.

 

            These are just two of many examples of how we  destroy our peace, our tranquility, by choosing sin, by choosing turmoil.  I am sure all of us can add many other instances.

 

            We have all heard it said that the devil works hard to bring us down.  Actually, I don’t like this saying because it is a convenient way for any of us to deny our responsibility for the chaos of our lives.  No, it is not that “devil that makes us do it.”  We don’t need his help.  We don’t even have to work hard to destroy our lives.  We are capable of doing this all too easily. 

 

            But no matter how much turmoil we may be in, it does not matter to God.  God brings us back to Himself.  And He does it quickly.  He raises us from chaos and turmoil and sin instantaneously.  Do you know why?  Because God wins.  He always wins.  At least, He always wins as long as we let Him win.

 

            So the man who has destroyed his family turns back to God and becomes a new person, one who is loving and giving.  By the end of his life his children and perhaps, even his former wife, recognize that his goodness has overcome the pain he inflicted.  They remember their father and her former husband for the good man he had become and the way he brought God’s love to them.  He dies in peace.  God wins.  He always wins.  At least, as long as we let him win.

 

            So the woman suffering the trauma of the abortion puts herself in God’s hands.  As Pope John Paul II said in his 1995 encyclical Evangelium Vitae, the Gospel of Life,  she can become stronger than before because she recognizes the value of human life.  To quote the Holy Father: you can be among the most eloquent defenders of everyone’s right to life.  Through your commitment to life, whether by accepting the birth of other children or by welcoming and caring for those most in need of someone to be close to them, you will become promoters of a new way of looking at human life.  She can live in peace.  God wins.  He always wins.  At least, as long as we let Him win.

 

            “For a child is born to us, a son is given us; upon his shoulder dominion rests. They name him Wonder-Counselor, God-Hero, Father-Forever, Prince of Peace.”  Prince of Peace. What is the peace that Jesus brings? The peace that Jesus brings is the freedom from chaos in our own lives. 

 

            If we can have the courage to embrace the life he proclaimed with his life, a life where the spiritual is primary, a life where the greater value is in what is given, a life of

charity, the unselfish concern for the welfare of others, then we can enjoy the Peace the Lord came to bring every moment of our lives. God does not want any of us suffering even if we are suffering the results of our own actions.  He wants to comfort us.  He wants us to be at peace.

 

            He saves us from the chaos we have afflicted upon ourselves.  His name is Jesus.  That is the name the angel told Joseph to give Him because He will save His people from their sins.  He saves us from ourselves.  He is the Prince of Peace.

 

            May you and your families live in the Peace of Christ.

 

            Merry Christmas!