CCCB REPORT: The angels sang of peace on Christmas night. The Prophets had promised peace. Each celebration of the Eucharist we proclaim it and share it with one another. Christ’s peace is much more than the absence of war and violence, important though these are. It does not concern stillness and quiet, though these are vital for our wellbeing. The peace Christ offers is a renewed and whole relationship that brings all into unity and harmony: God and humanity, heaven and earth, nature and society, brothers and sisters, no matter how estranged.
God’s saving justice is always accompanied by peace. The Lord who “guides our feet into the way of peace” (Luke 1.79) is the One who scatters the proud, brings down the powerful, sends the rich away empty, lifts up the lowly, and fills the hungry with good things (Luke 1.51-53). The Blessed Messenger who announces peace, who brings good news, who announces salvation (Isaiah 52.7) is the Suffering Servant, “rejected by others, a man of suffering” (Isaiah 53.3).
Willingness to serve while ready to be disappointed and even hurt is part of what it means to be a follower of Christ. Christmas Day is followed by the feast of Saint Stephen, a deacon and the first Christian martyr. As a result of the birth of Jesus, the Holy Innocents were massacred under the order of King Herod. The wonder and joy of Christmas envelope the helplessness of humanity and also the hope that comes from kindness and compassion.
As we celebrate this Christmas, may we be renewed by our hunger for justice and our desire for compassion. Let us rededicate ourselves to our mission as peacemakers, as suffering servants with Christ. This was the humble, vulnerable sign given to the shepherds that first Christmas night: “You will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.”
The peace of Christ be with us all this Christmas.
+ Pierre Morissette
Bishop of Saint-Jérôme
Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops