Throughout Advent we have been preparing for this very night. And the way we have prepared is by not doing more but doing less. This is strange to our world that seems to be in a contest to see who can do the most stuff in a day or who can get the most stuff by the end of your life. But we have tried to slow that trend in our lives so that we focus less on what the world gives us and more on what God gives us. So we have tried to simplify our lives. The Church even simplifies the Liturgy in Advent as many have you noticed that we haven’t prayed the Gloria for the past four Sundays. But tonight once again we join all the angels and “the multitude of the heavenly host…praising God and saying: “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests” (Luke 2:14). God’s favor rests on us tonight, because we, like the Shepherds in the Gospel, have been invited to a great event; for, as the prophet Isaiah said, “A child is born to us, a son is given us” (Isaiah 9:6). And he is Christ the Lord.

The gift of Christmas is the birth of God into our world, the world that he created and gave over to us, but a world that fell into chaos when the human race turned away from its Creator to follow our own way. And we still feel the result of this sin through a loss of harmony between family members, brothers and sisters, husbands and wives, between groups of people, and between nations of the world. Ultimately, when our world turned away from God we lost our best friend and our source of peace. And every since then we have been trying to regain this peace through various human efforts that always fall short. And the result, time and time again throughout human history, is broken relationships among individuals and nations. The evidence of this is families who suffer through broken homes and divorce or countries that suffer through war. And so God came to us not glory, but in humility, as a little baby who was dependent on his Mother.

He came in order to save us, our families, to save all nations, in order to save the whole world, not with the power of money, or a scientific discovery, or using the weapons of war, but with the power of Love. Therefore, Jesus is the answer to all the woes of our world, all the brokenness of the human race, at a personal level and at the universal level.

As human beings, we are all unique, but we all essentially want the same thing: We want what our first parents, Adam and Eve, once had: Tranquility in mind, harmony with others around us, and that peace of heart that makes us happy. This is true even for people who don’t believe in Jesus as the Savior of the World, or even for those who don’t believe in God. It is the desire of every human heart. We want peace. But we cannot seem to get it. And so we busy our lives with all sorts of activities in search for it and the best we can get is just little tastes of it: For about as long as our favorite T.V. show or movie lasts, or favorite ice cream. How many parents just to get a moment of peace let their kids sit in front of the T.V. or computer. And kids love it, but as soon as it is gone, so is their peace. We look for peace in relationships with others but we always end up disappointed. Our world looks to have peace on a global level. How many songs and movements have been written on the theme of peace. How many peace talks have been organized between groups or nations? How many peace treaties have been signed throughout history? Our whole world wants it. But as good and helpful as these human efforts have been, they always fall short. It is because peace isn’t just an idea, a plan, or something that can be obtained from a contract between two people. It isn’t simply the absence of conflict between enemies. It is much more. Peace is a Person.

And by faith we know that he is the Second Person of the Holy Trinity who has come to our world so that we may know him personally and that through him we may have true peace. That is what we celebrate this Christmas, this man who is Peace. Isaiah the prophet says of him: “They name him Wonder-Counselor, God-Hero, Father-Forever, Prince of Peace.” Jesus is Christ the Lord, the God-Hero that our world needs. The Wonder-Counselor that will make everything right. The Father-Forever who heals our broken families. The Prince of Peace who ends war and brings harmony to every land and every nation, to every mind and every heart.

But why doesn’t our world have this peace yet? Perhaps it is still looking for the idea of peace and not the Person of Peace. I mean, it can’t be that simple, right? How could one person have all the answers to our world’s problems? Yet it is that simple. But our world is too afraid to follow that simple solution. But the bigger question is…why don’t you have this peace yet? Perhaps it is because you, too, are afraid. Perhaps you fear that it is too good to be true. Perhaps you are afraid of letting go of your sins that give you a false comfort and only temporary peace. Perhaps there is a fear that others will see you as different or that someone will make fun of you for being a true follower of Christ. Perhaps you are simply afraid of the commitment involved. Perhaps someone in the Church, a family member, another parishioner, or a priest, has upset you with their bad example and so you have lost trust. Well the truth is, there are many kinds of fears that all of us have.

So tonight I want to encourage you with some angelic wisdom: “Do not be afraid!” These are the words the Angel spoke to the shepherds in Bethlehem the night that Jesus was born. The Gospel describes how the shepherds who were keeping the night watch: “…were struck with great fear.” You know, we are like those shepherds. We all still live in that same dark world. We all have been hurt in one way or another. We have all experienced disappointments. And like the shepherds we become easily afraid, afraid of more disappointment, afraid of someone else hurting us, afraid of trusting again. We all fear the God wants to punish us. But our Mighty and Powerful God has not come to hurt us but to set us free from all fear. And that is why he made himself small, a little baby, who needs to be held, who needs to be loved. So I encourage you, do not be afraid to hold the Child Jesus close to you tonight, to believe that he loves you. Do not be afraid to feel his love in your heart. Do not be afraid to believe that he is truly God and Man who wants to save you from the disappointments of life. And do not be afraid to open this great gift of His Love and allow his grace to fill your soul with everlasting peace. Amen.

St. Bernadette Roman Catholic Church
101 South College Street
Cedartown, GA 30125
(770) 748-1517
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