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LIFE MATTERS: Peace, The Real Message of Christmas

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By Dr. Dencio S. Acop

Christmas is here once again! The birth of Christ the Messiah marks the beginning of another year in the Christian calendar. And it is joyful as Gaudete Sunday celebrates! Thus, the symbolisms of this joy abound around us during this time of year: the Christmas tree, the Christmas manger, and the Christmas banquet get-togethers of all kinds! But what really is Christmas? Fr Sean in his homily at Boston’s St Francis reflects that Christmas is first, paying homage to the King of peace; second, reconciling ourselves to Him by becoming lambs among wolves; and third, living the rest of our lives striving to grow closer to our King.

First, Christmas is giving homage to the King of peace. God exemplifies the greatest gift-giver because He not only gifted us with life but also gave us His only begotten Son and through him eternal life. He gifted us peace. Christ always greeted everyone with ‘Shalom!’ (Peace be with you). Can we really think of any better gift than peace? Peace of mind. Restful soul. Clear conscience. Sound sleep. Freedom from worldly attachment. From war. No material gift can be greater than peace. No great military or political power can be mightier than peace. Rich or poor, young or old, learned or ignorant, white or black, powerful or weak, peace does not discriminate. But true peace is only begotten by those who give homage to the King of peace.

Second, Christmas means reconciliation with the Lord by becoming lambs among wolves. It is not enough that we go to confession. We must also reconcile ourselves to those hurt by the sins we confessed and with those who hurt us. As the Father sent his only Son to reconcile us back to Him, so must we also emulate this gift with one another. We can only do this if we become like lambs among wolves. We must adopt the ways of peace even among the ways of men. It is not easy and no one said it is. The crucified Christ was enough to drive his followers mad with fear. But eventually the resurrected Christ was more than enough to redeem both followers and Gentiles to the ways of peace. Why is peace triumphant over the sword? Because the slain martyrs, although dead, lived. While the slayers merely lived on for a while but eventually perished forever. Because they did not reconcile with the King of peace but cast their lot with wolves.

Finally, the only way to live beginning with Christmas is to grow closer to Christ. How? By loving others with the heart of Christ’s peace. As we get closer to Christ, we become more aware of sin especially our own. Because of this humility about our own fallibility, we realize more and more that we need Christ to be our strength. We may falter on our own because of our sinful selves, but with Christ alongside us we can take on the baddest wolf. People are usually lost about what to do with their lives. And it is because the decision is always based on the ego-self and its narrow interests. But if the heart follows after Christ’s peace, that vocation is revealed. There is always peace even in the most difficult and trying times in our lives. And that peace comes in always choosing to love others with Christ’s heart of peace. When we see people giving to the poor, feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, visiting the sick and dying, comforting the unconsolable, being kind, praying and doing good. That is the true spirit of Christmas. All focused on Christmas’ center of gravity: Christ’s peace.

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