Monday, December 23, 2013

The Fourth Week of Advent: Peace

The day of the birth of Christ is drawing near. This last candle we light before the birth of our Lord signifies PEACE. We call our Lord by many names, including "Prince of Peace," but even as the angels heralded in the birth of the Christ child with anthems of "peace on earth, goodwill toward men" (Luke 2:14), Jesus was very clear that He did not come to bring "peace on earth" the way we often think of peace. "Do not suppose that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace on earth, but a sword" (Matthew 10:34). What Jesus is saying is not that He came to bring war, nor was He going to thwart all Israel's enemies (the Romans) and establish an earthly kingdom, but that the result of the gospel would inevitably cause division between the forces of good and evil. Indeed, the kind of peace that Jesus was going to bring was not one where good and evil were going to "go along to get along" with each other, but where good was able to triumph over evil for the salvation of all. 

Had Jesus come to bring "peace as the world gives peace," then we would be doomed. For salvation, evil had to be put down and rendered unable to affect us, and the kind of "sword" we use to put it down with is the word of holiness in the gospel. Indeed, the kind of kingdom that Jesus was setting up was a spiritual kingdom where our common enemy (death and sin) would be thwarted, and in casting it down, only then could we have "peace on earth and goodwill toward men." Christ stressed all the more: "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives" (John 14:27). The kind of peace Christ established on earth was an inner peace, stemming from inner holiness, which would ripple out of the inward heart and affect the external world until all the earth was in peace. He was not going to "impose peace" (as the world does), for true peace can only come by will and from within. His peace comes from an inner peace which makes the exterior clean as well: "Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean" (Matthew 23:26). 

How do we Christian Childlovers find peace? Christ has the answer and it is (like all things) no different from the answer he gives to everyone. We do not find peace by "going along with the crowd" and "doing as everyone else does" or "approving of what everyone else does, just for the sake of keeping pace." This is a false "worldly" peace! We are to be "set apart" from the world for the gospel of God (Romans 1:1; Psalm 4:3). This means if all the other Childlovers are chasing after various lusts, we are not to join in with them because we are assured that they have no peace. St. Paul describes the Christian in these terms, comparing him to those who are "tossed about" in the turbulence of their desires: "Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming" (Ephesians 4:14). On the contrary, we are assured by St. Peter that those who are tossed about by wanton desire, obeying its every call, have no peace (even if they think they do): "These people are springs without water and mists driven by a storm" (2nd Peter 2:17). 

Again and again in the Psalms and Proverbs we are implored not to envy or "walk in step" with those who chase after their lusts at every turn (as they often do in the BL and GL communities): "Do not be envious of evil men, Nor desire to be with them; For their minds devise violence, And their lips talk of trouble" (Proverbs 24:1). This message was affirmed by Christ in the Sermon on the Mount, when he said: "You are the salt of the earth. But what good is salt if it has lost its flavor? Can you make it salty again?" (Matthew 5:13). Christians live in the world (in peace), but they are not of this world, and so reject what the world values. Their values are the eternal truths of God, who does not have peace, but is Peace. One can not have God's Peace if he wars in himself or is torn between the lust of the flesh and the "lust of the spirit"...for these are constantly at war: "For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want" (Galatians 5:17). If we loose our flavor, or our own inner goodness (by "going along with the others and lusting and perverting and engaging in various revelries," even just to "get along with others"), then we have LOST our inner peace, and then there is no "peace on earth." 

For a Childlover to have peace, they first have to live the gospel in truth (which is to participate in that "division" that Christ is talking about, even if it means dividing themselves from other Childlovers who live at war within themselves). But that doesn't mean we should go around the internet communities warring against our Chidlove brothers who disagree with our approach to inner peace (indeed, some will claim to find inner peace by their lusts), nor do we have to completely abandon them, especially if there is a remnant among them that can be helped. Instead we should be among them as examples of inner peace, praying for them, with our inner light shining before them that they may glory God: "In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven" (Matthew 5:16). Then, Christ says, we will "be the salt of the earth," which is to say, we will be "perfect as your Father in heaven is perfect" (Matthew 5:48). We can not settle for personal imperfection, for nothing imperfect can have peace, but we need to strive for absolute perfection which is in Christ Jesus. As the prophet Micah (5:5) wrote: "And he will be their peace." 

We need to join our will to that of the Father (who is perfect) and therefore be the best of the earth and give the rest of the earth its "flavor." This is what the Blessed Mother and Joseph did when they consented to the will of God that they should be the parents of the Savior, despite all of its inconvenience for them. Indeed as the Apostle Matthew points out, "this is how the birth of Salvation came about:" 
"This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about. When his mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found with child through the Holy Spirit. Joseph her husband, since he was a righteous man, yet unwilling to expose her to shame, decided to divorce her quietly. Such was his intention when, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home. For it is through the Holy Spirit that this child has been conceived in her. She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet [Isaiah 7:14]: "Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel, which means “God is with us.”" When Joseph awoke, he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took his wife into his home." MT 1:18-24
Indeed, once we have "cleaned the inside of the cup," and conformed our will to the Lord's will, no matter how inconvenient it will be for us and our friendships with others (since everything about what the Lord was asking of Joseph and Mary was going to separate them from others), we are to project that inner good and God's will out on the world, and then the outer world will be made clean, and that outer cleanliness will be the "peace on earth and goodwill toward men" that the angels sang of at the birth of our Lord. Our Peace on Earth, and Salvation, always begins WITHIN. We nurture it in our womb, like the Blessed Mother, and when it arrives, it becomes the Salvation of all. 

"Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me!

How beautiful is it when the boy starts singing?

Grace and PEACE be to you!

1 comment:

  1. Very beautiful! and yes, you're correct so beautiful; when the boy stats to sing!



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