He Shall Be Peace


Fourth Sunday of Advent

Micah 5: 1-4a; Heb 10: 5-10; Luke 1: 39-45

Dc. Larry Brockman

“He shall be peace”-  This from our first reading.  Boy, can we use peace at this time of year.  It seems to me that the holiday season can be anything but peaceful.  There are cards to write, gifts to buy and wrap, parties to attend, cooking to be done, relatives to visit with.  And when the relatives visit, often times old hurts come up, and they quickly dispel the feeling of peace that should be heralded by the season.  And then, in the background, we have to deal with uncertain economic times and the problems that brings.  So, amidst all the turmoil, what can we do to experience the peace of the season?   

Well, first, we need to realize what kind of peace is being talked about.  Mary gives us a clue about what real peace is.  She had just encountered the angel Gabriel, who had told her that she would bear God’s child even though she had not been with a man.  Initially, this message had to bring pain to Mary.  What would she tell her fiancée?  What would her parents think of her?  Would she be stoned by the authorities for adultery?  What about her dreams of a normal life?  All these things had to weigh heavily on Mary.  That had to be anything but peaceful.  They are like the things that weigh heavily on us during the holidays- conflicts over demands for time; so many chores to be done. and for some of us, job losses and financial uncertainty; illnesses or infirmity; and old hurts that are resurrected.  Where can the peace of the season be in all that?  Why can’t I just have it my way for once?  That’s what we ask ourselves-  that’s what we think would bring peace- having our way.  

But in contrast, what did Mary do about her dilemma?  Despite all that weighed on her, Mary said yes to the angel.  She accepted God’s will for her, and trusted in his providence.  Just like Mary, all of us are challenged during Advent, to listen intently for the voice of the Lord, to discern what he is calling us to be and to do, rather than how we want it.  We need to accept what we hear, and make God’s will our own, because once Mary did that- once she said yes and vowed to be the handmaid of the Lord, then, she experienced a deep, interior peace.  That is the kind of peace that Micah is talking about in the first reading.  It’s the kind of peace you experience when you know that things are right in your heart.  There can be lots of turmoil on the outside, but inside, you feel a calmness, a peacefulness that says everything will be OK, because God is with me.  That peace comes to us when we accept things the way they are intended by God, and offer our pain up to God as the sacrifice we are making for doing His will, not our own.  Only God can help us get through all the turmoil around us.   

That, in fact, is the essence of our second reading.  Meaningless sacrifices of animals are not what God wants.  No, rather, he wants us to sacrifice our will and wants in deference to his will.  It is only then that we will feel the peace that comes with being in harmony with God.  This will not immediately resolve all the pressures and problems we have.  That will come in time as we trust in the Lord’s grace and providence.  But it will give us a sense of peace.  Notice that Elizabeth tells Mary that she is blessed.  And indeed, all of us who accept God’s will for us are destined to receive the grace and peace of the Lord.  We, too, will be blessed.   

One more thing we should do.  We should spread our peace to those around us with confidence and self assurance.  We can be bringers of God’s peace to others-how: by biting our tongue when we are baited with those old hurts; by accepting the demands on us with gracefulness and not bitterness; by treating the clerks in the stores and the people around us with kindness and consideration.  In these ways our peace can radiate like the sun.  And in the name of the Christ child, we shall be peace. 

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