Christmas is the Prince of Peace: joy is not love for itself, but the peace created by our loving sacrifices for others


Christmas is the Prince of Peace: joy is not love for itself, but the peace created by our loving sacrifices for others

As we follow the devastating wars in Sudan, Gaza, Ukraine, Myanmar, to name but a few, many of us are worried, or afraid of where our world is heading.

Today’s first reading reveals a passage about God denying David’s request to build a house for God.  If you read the whole Bible, you will pick up glimpses of the reason why, from the Book of Chronicles and the Book of Kings.  Here is a little research from the Scholars:

The temple is a type of the OT church.  The temple symbolizes the church.  Benson explains: Thou hast shed blood, etc.; thou shalt not build a house unto my name — Not that wars are simply unlawful, but to teach us that the church … should be built by Christ, the Prince of peace, Isaiah 9:6, and that it should be gathered and built up, not by might or power, but by God’s Spirit, Zechariah 4:6, and by the preaching of the Gospel of peace.  David therefore was less fit for that service, than one who had not been called to such bloody work.  Likewise, by setting him aside for this reason, God showed how precious human life is to him. Biblical Hermeneutics – Questions – Why would being a man of war prevent David from building the temple of God

War is sometimes necessary to remove a danger, but not as a lasting way to create a sanctuary.  Can world leaders with blood on their hands really build a world of peace?  The community of peace that the Church is supposed to be, must be built up by love, sacrifice, constant presence.

It is good to remember how, in the past, the church building was seen as a place of refuge and safety.  Even most criminals, police, etc. respected the church building as a safe place.

More important, however, is whether we as Christians, the real Church of Christ, make people feel safe when they come into our presence?  It was encouraging to hear the youth sharing that the Oblate youth group has helped them to feel ‘at home’ away from home: they feel safe. Are we creating a peaceful place at home or work by our words and actions?

For us, when we go through really difficult times, we can lose hope and feel like giving up.  The courage of Mary to say ‘YES’, is a good inspiration for us to keep doing good.  As one of the youth said, Mary would have been in shock, not expecting what was asked of her.  A shock that was compounded when she became a refugee fleeing to Egypt for the baby’s safety.

If people ask us for help, when we are not expecting it, do we say YES?  One of our youth always says YES when a youth needs a bed, even though he has single-room accommodation.

How do we find peace when we see the sadness and pain in the world and in our own lives?

One of the youth shared how she had given up on God after her baby came: she struggled to find even 20 shillings to buy a diaper.  One day her grandmother reminded her “I raised you in the Church.”  So, she started returning to church.  Life was not suddenly changed, but slowly she regained her faith and hope, and good things started happening.  Now she realises that coming back to community in the Church is important to build hope, find belonging and peace.

So, the great gift that Christ gives the world, and Christmas reminds us of, is the gift of peace.  Christ was peace, but taught us how to create peace by his life of service and self-sacrifice for the good of others.  When we show kindness to so called enemies, we take away their fear of us, and slowly feel safe in our presence = that is how peace is won.

Not only in the world do we need peace between nations, our families and in workplaces, but we need peace in our environment.  COP28 has just concluded: but the struggles are just starting.  Environmental scientist, David Orr, says in his book Ecological Literacy: Educating Our Children for a Sustainable World: (success here = making money)

The plain fact is that the planet does not need more successful people.  But it does desperately need more peacemakers, healers, restorers, storytellers, and lovers of every kind. …It needs people of moral courage willing to join the fight to make the world habitable and humane… – Ecological Literacy: Educating Our Children for a Sustainable World

If we want a healthy future for ourselves and our children, can we have the courage of Christ, who came into the world as a baby depending on others, to cut our personal pollution?  Thereby creating a better world for our children and our old age.

Finally, there’s a great connection between King Solomon, son of David who built the Temple; and Christ, who often referred to himself as son of David, who established the Church.  However, Solomon lost his way and became unfaithful.  In contrast, Christ was faithful, and we are asked today: are we going to be faithful peacemakers and faithful stewards of the earth?

Despite our bruises and pain during the year, can we look outside ourselves to acknowledge the good people and things around us?  Peace began with Christ.  Can we keep the “peace flowing like a river” by saying YES to love and make sacrifices for God, people and the world?

By Gerard Conlan, OMI