One of the blessings which we associate with Christmas is “Peace”.
During the Great War a truce was usually declared on Christmas Day, and
on at least one occasion at Christmas soldiers on the Western Front
played a football match with “the enemy” to mark the arrival of the
season of peace.
It is not entirely unknown for families, where there
has been tension over some matter, to at the very least, set it aside in
the “spirit of Christmas”.
One of the most frequently used
readings in all our Churches on Christmas Day is from the prophet Isaiah
“And His name shall be called Wonderful Counsellor, the Everlasting
Father, the Prince of Peace”.
At Christmas the Son of God came
into the world to make peace with those who were near and those who were
far off; and we have a vocation to continue His peacemaking. And peace
is not just the absence of war; peace is principally the presence of
God. God with us.
Peace of course is not achieved by ignoring
all the nasty things in the world, or all the difficult things in our
lives. That is called naïveté, and unfortunately it often evaporates at
the first sight of trouble. For believers peace is very closely
connected with faith. Now, faith doesn’t underestimate the problems of
the world or the complications in our own lives either. But it does
know that, strong as those forces are, they are not the strongest.
Peace is not a glassy calm, but it can be a mighty confidence.
and anxiety are the enemies of peace because they can so easily fall
backwards into despair or fall forwards into anger. Despair happens
because we look around us and see only problems, and they seem just too
big to deal with. Anger overtakes us when we look around us and see
only enemies who frighten us, and we try in turn to frighten them with
That means that if we are to be peacemakers for
ourselves and for others we need to help one another to look around and
to see also what is good.
That we still live in one of the
loveliest and most unspoilt parts of the world or that a tiny island
like ours can produce someone like Seamus Heaney or Van Morrison.
organisations like Trócaire and Tear Fund can still be sure that,
despite all the hardships we have faced in Ireland, we will still
probably give more per household than any other Western country.
damaged and fragile as it is, Christianity is still a living reality for
many people in Ireland when it is almost extinguished in many parts of
Europe. All these are good and they make for peace.
all it is good that Jesus Christ was entrusted to the goodness of a
human family and that the Eternal Word of the Father held on to Mary’s
finger and pulled her love down to Him.
May we take this opportunity to wish you a peaceful Christmas and a blessed New Year.
+ John McDowell
+ Liam McDaid