Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Fourth Wednesday of Advent

Peace on Earth

eace is more than simply the absence of conflict.  Peace means God's life in our souls.  Peace means grace abundant in the souls of men.  And so, dismayed by the horrors of war, the suffering and distraught peoples of the globe look to the leaders of nations for a surcease from the pain and death of war.  On all sides, from friend and foe, from ally and enemy, this desire for a cessation of armed strife comes.  But only upon the teachings of the humble Nazarene, who came to earth as a Babe born in a stable, can there be built a lasting order of justice and charity, the two essential notes for a lasting peace.

From Bethlehem hills will echo the bells of a new Christmastide, announcing anew tidings of joy and the good news of the Gospel to all who will permit such hallowed sounds to filter through the din of the world's excitement and the roar of cannon and shell.  From the hill of the Vatican 'round the world will go the echo of Christ in the voice of Hi9s Vicar.  Yet, error and prejudice and hatred will blind many hearts and dull many souls to that message of the Pope of Peace.  Still Pius prays, "O God, from whom all just works do proceed give to your servants that peace which the world cannot give, that our hearts may be disposed to obey Your commandments and that our days may be peaceful."

The Pope's peace plan includes the right of nations to independence, disarmament, a world court where universal justice for small nations may be obtained, and principally a return to God and religion.  Shortly after the ascension of Pope Pius XII to the papal throne war broke out in Europe.  Yet, he has more than any other man living sought daily by virtue of his office to avert the spread of that global catastrophe.  Nothing is gained by war that cannot be achieved by peace," he has warned the nations.  How true the words have been and how sorrowful have the nations become through loss of their choicest citizens because they have not heeded his advice. 

The Holy Father has spoken many times of peace at Christmas.  How true his words but recently uttered -- "a true peace is not the mathematical result of a proportion of forces, but in its last and deepest meaning is a moral and juridical process.  It is not, in fact, achieved without employment of force, and its very existence needs the support of a normal measure of power.  But the real function of this force, if it is to be morally correct, should consist in protecting and defending and not in lessening or suppressing rights.  An hour like the present -- so full of possibilities for vast beneficent progress no less than for fatal defects and blunders -- has perhaps never been seen in the history of mankind."

Today, the believing world, though rent asunder by the heresy of different beliefs, all turns to Bethlehem.  Catholics blessed with the divine deposit of faith that has remained unchanged through the ages turn to the crib of the tabernacle and the Babe of the Eucharist and, bending low in adoration like the shepherds of old, cry out "Emmanuel" -- God with us.  There in the picture of faith and devotion is the humble Mary and her spouse Joseph, true to the divine summons watching over the child of peace.

Though there may be no peace in the world where bombers fly overhead and munition plants keep wheeling out supplies,  yet there will be millions of hearts and souls, attuned to the divine will of God, who, practicing justice and charity in their own little worlds, will have the blessings of peace -- the peace which the world cannot give -- the knowledge of a good conscience and the assurance that God is watching over their eternal destiny and protecting their souls from evil.  In such hearts Bethlehem's message "Glory to God and peace to men of good will" will find a hallowed place.


O Lord, inspire rulers an peoples with counsels of meekness. Heal the discord that tears nations asunder.  You, who shed Your precious blood that men might live as brothers, bring them all once more together in peace.