Merry Christmas!

Isaiah 52:7-10
Hebrews 1:1-6
John 1:1-18

During the first and second centuries, the Roman Empire enjoyed a period of relative prosperity and tranquility. In one of the great marketing campaigns of history, Caesar Augustus was hailed as a "god" and the "savior of the world" for the peace he enforced.

And enforce it he did. "Peace" meant everyone in their place, everyone bowing to the power and authority of the emperor. The celebrated Roman peace was built largely on intimidation and violence against the vulnerable, the poor, and the powerless. It was a tense, anxious, costly "peace."

And then, one night in a backwater of the great empire, a new vision of peace appeared. It was peace centered on that perfect love between a mother and her newborn child. It was peace that brought together heaven and earth.

The song heard over the village that night proclaimed the peace that would be the nucleus of the kingdom this child would initiate.

Peace is not just the absence of strife but the presence of compassion and forgiveness. Peace is not fearful passivity but loving perseverance to reconcile and heal. Peace is not enforced by one's power but celebrated in mutual respect and generosity. Peace is not the province of the powerful but the responsibility of all "men and women of good will." Peace exalts humility, poverty, simplicity, service. The economy of peace is built on justice for all and the dignity of the most vulnerable.

Today the peace of God dawns. God's love takes on a human face and heart and body. The work of building God's kingdom of peace begins on Christmas Day.

Meditation: In what concrete ways can you transform "peace" from an absence of conflict into God's peace of generosity, forgiveness, and humility?

Prayer: Welcome, O Child of Bethlehem! Fill our empty hearts with your Father's peace. May your Spirit make us ministers of that peace, enabling us to become God's "people of good will."

from "Daily Reflections for Advent and Christmas: Waiting in Joyful Hope 2011-12" by Jay V. Cormier