Advent, 4th Sunday (C) Last week, Deacon Andy talked about how we could find Joy even in the midst of difficult circumstances. Today I want to talk about Peace. We don't find peace on special at Wal-Mart. So where do we find peace?
We might assume that peace happens when we are in a peaceful place, like drinking hot cocoa and watching the snow fall. But then we whip out our cell phones to check the sports scores, and we realize that we don't have peace within us. When we are in the right place, doing the right thing, that is one area where we can find peace. We also find peace when we sort out a relationship issue and get it to a good place.
St. Augustine famously said, "You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in You." Other authors have talked about a "God-shaped hole" within us that swallows everything until it settles on a relationship with God. Getting right with God, being in the right spiritual place, is the ticket to peace. Perhaps you haven't realized that God really wants a relationship with you. The sacraments, the Church, the Bible, even Christmas is all about a relationship with God.
Once we have realized that God wants a relationship with us, we might reject it because we think we are not worthy. Good news: God knows everything about you and he still wants a relationship with you. Let's look at two people who clearly had a relationship with God and see what they can show us.
Mary was obedient. Her obedience to the law taught her that God loved her and knew what was best for her. Her little daily, "Yes" to God's law prepared her for her big "Yes." Joseph He loved Mary enough to sacrifice his reputation for her. He gives an example of self-sacrificing love. Joseph and Mary together were humble. Their humility prepared them to receive the humble Christ Child.
Sometimes we find ourselves forced by circumstances into a place of humility, obedience, and self-sacrifice. It is here in this low place that the Christ Child comes to meet us and fill us with his Peace and Joy. But then he takes our hand and says, "Walk with me on the road of the cross." And we say no, and Jesus walks away and his peace and joy leave with him. This Advent, let Mary lead you to Jesus, and let Jesus lead you to peace and joy.
(19 Dec 2021)
Going Deeper: The image for this podcast episode is from The Met's website. We might be more than a little disturbed by Mary and Joseph's seemingly lack of concern for this poor child lying naked on the ground. This was in imitation of the Traditional Latin Mass, where the host lies directly on the corporal at the consecration. Humility comes from "humus" meaning "earth." Placing Jesus on the ground is a way of visualizing the humility of the incarnation, what it means for the Eternal word to humbly descend to the lowest places of our world. Gaze at this image for a few moments and reflect on how Jesus lived humility, obedience, and self-sacrificing love.