Advent is a beautiful four weeks in the Christian calendar, filled with hope, filled with peace, filled with joy. The rush to the shops to buy, buy, buy; and the parties and drinking and eating all hide the beauty of this season of reflection. Perhaps for a few moments we can stop the hectic round of activity, listen instead to the deep place in our hearts and hear those voices crying out for peace on earth! Let yourself touch the peace that stillness brings to your own heart and mind.
At the end of these four weeks we will celebrate the birth of a displaced homeless child in the poverty of a stable and dark cold night. A child whose family will soon have to flee from terror and seek asylum in a strange land. Yet the coming of this child lit up the skies and echoed the earth with Songs of Peace. But how did this poverty-stricken Prince of Peace change the world?
Certainly not by promising us prosperity and tranquillity! He grew up to be Good News of Justice for the Poor, to heal the sick and broken-hearted, to reach out to those on the edges of society, to bring warring factions to walk the paths of peace together. And he gave us the secret of peace of heart – to love, to love like he did, serving the poor and broken, sacrificing himself in love to bring the freedom of forgiveness.
So if you and I give peace to another, we will find that inner peace ourselves. When we let go of grudges, forgive the hurts we have received, rebuild broken relationships, then we are building peace. If we dare to open our eyes and hearts to see the dying eyes and distended stomachs of the children of Yemen and Afghanistan – and really do something to change a world that can inflict such suffering, then we will build peace. If our lives are Good News to others, especially to the poor, the homeless, the refugee and asylum-seeker, then we will find that peace beyond all understanding. If we give with a loving heart, work with courage to build a more just and equal world, if we give peace we will find peace!