A painted masterpiece hangs on the wall. Each color is like a different person. While some colors seem to dominate the picture, the nuances of slight shadowing and highlighting bring it to life. Each color changes the canvas. Each one interacts differently. But all are there together, creating one image that inspires the admirer.
Similarly, a wild garden flourishes. Its trees naturally prune themselves to continue growing well, small animals find hiding places in the tall grasses from predators, and wildflowers seeds spread near and far, dotting the land with bright color. It’s beauty offers the passerby a chance at wonder and awe.
By the movement of the Holy Spirit, each of two cousins proclaims the greatness of God in her own words, and in her own womb. They care for each other, and by the gift of themselves, the protection of their husbands, and the providence of God, one brings into the world the announcement of the peace to come, and the other, Peace Incarnate.
The Second Week of Advent: Know God’s Law. Create Beauty. Spread Peace.
Peace is a recognition and defense of the natural order God established in, through, and around us. He set up a world in which there are natural consequences. If we misuse the earth, it can change our weather, kill off entire species, and affect our food supply. If we mistreat people, it not only destroys them, it also often leads to war and all of its complications. If we misuse our bodies, they become unhealthy and start to die. If we neglect our relationship with God, our souls suffer along with our bodies and the Mystical Body of Christ.
Christ’s presence on earth restored the peace that was original to God’s design, before the fall of Adam and Eve. His Incarnation, Death, and Resurrection meant that we had the chance at living again in communion with God – the natural order God had always intended. He gave us the opportunity to live in peace.
In John 14:27, Christ says to the Apostles, “Peace I leave with you, my own peace I give you; a peace the world cannot give, this is my gift to you. Let not your hearts be troubled or afraid.” He had shown them how God wanted them to love one another. He had washed their feet, fed them with His own bodily sacrifice, forgiven them, and humbly invited them to join Him in heaven. In Him, we find peace.
Sometimes, we forget that we live not in a broken world, but in a redeemed world. We’ve already won, and nothing can take that away. There’s nothing that will ever again separate us from our chance at life in Christ, at God being all in all at the end of time. But that doesn’t mean there’s not still work to do.
At every Mass, we offer to one another this peace that Christ left with us, left in us. We offer to one another to make ourselves and the world around us function as God intended it. We often describe it as being in harmony – different voices working together to create beauty- and we call it the Sign of Peace.
It’s probably why we moms are suddenly swept away by a longing to make the house “right,” even though there are a million other plans thrown our way, and why most of society almost instinctively starts giving to charities and homeless shelters this time of year. We want to restore peace. We want that proper order that spreads love. We hope to wipe away whatever sinfulness got us to where we are, and start living generously and courageously to show others that we were all put here to care for each other using our own paint color or nature or words.
This week, restore God’s order. Put the crucifix in place of the TV, go to daily Mass, begin the day with a rosary, offer the extra you wanted to buy to a homeless shelter, call a friend who needs prayers, clean out the hand-me-downs for a crisis pregnancy center, replant the landscaping at church, work on mending a broken relationship, adopt a child, or help a social justice ministry thrive. Add your mark to help others take note of the beauty of God’s redeemed creation. Share you.
“Peace is the tranquility of order.”