A Happy and Peaceful New Year to one and all! There is no better wish we can exchange on this day, for we need peace in our hearts, our families our nation, and throughout the world. So many resources are misused or squandered. So many lives are destroyed by hatred and war.
But we are aware that real and lasting peace can come only if people obey God's law and if God blesses their efforts. And we know that He is ready to grant us this most precious gift at the intercession of our Blessed Mother, whom we honor today as "Mother of God". May She, as our Mother and Queen of Peace bring the warring factions and nations to lay aside all hatred and start working together to build a civilization of love, justice and peace.
The shepherds went in haste to Bethlehem and found Mary and Joseph, and the infant lying in the manger. When they saw this, they made known the message that had been told them about this child. All who heard this were amazed by what had been told them by the shepherds.
And Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart. Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, just as it had been told to them.
When eight days were completed for His circumcision, the baby was named Jesus, the name given Him by the angel before He was conceived in the womb.
Peace is a tree of many diverse leaves, flowers, and fruits. It strikes its roots in the hearts of people and grows through the moisture of deep personal convictions, commitment, and perseverance in the face of opposition and obstacles of every sort. Peace is brightened and strengthened by the sunshine of a sincere and universal love that refuses to bow to the destructiveness of hatred and vengefulness.
Peace is the aspiration of all those who have not been perverted by the devil, the wrecker of all peace. It is promoted by its great champions, but it cannot succeed without the cooperation of millions, and ultimately the whole of humankind.
Peace is a fragile fruit. It is easily damaged and even destroyed by envy, selfishness, pride, lust, aggressiveness, insensitivity, and cruelty. Peace is destroyed by sin whenever man turns against God or lifts his hand against his brethren. God grieves immensely when He sees us, human beings, undermine and destroy our own peace.
From the beginning, peace has been God’s dream and plan for the human family. His Kingdom is a Kingdom of peace. The greatest sign of God’s “peace initiative” is the incarnation of His own Son, the Eternal Word. He came as the Man of Peace – peace between God and us; peace among all humans. When He was born, the angels wished peace to all men of goodwill. Before He left this world, His greeting was: “Peace!”
Jesus came to our war-torn world through a woman – Mary – who is the Queen of Peace. She spent her earthly days in peace-filled communion with her Son. And from that intimacy, she derived the moral strength that she needed to be always available to cooperate with God, attentive to the needs of her neighbor.
The duty to promote peace is the legacy of Jesus and His Mother to all those who proclaim to believe in God, and especially of those who profess to be Disciples of Christ, the Prince of Peace. We are all called to promote peace by doing the “works of peace” – attitudes and actions that bring out the best in people; console the afflicted, welcome the strangers, protect the oppressed; uphold what is right and promote justice and education as basic conditions for peace to be genuine and lasting.
Sometimes there may even arise the need to defend peace against those who are trying to destroy it. It is the challenging enterprise of doing so by peaceful means that reject violence in principle and in practice.
The shining examples of Jesus Himself, Francis of Assisi, Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Teresa of Calcutta, and John Paul II should be our greatest encouragement. God’s grace will empower us to do what our weakness would be unable to accomplish.
Jess P. Balon
Euchalette, 1 January 2009
WORD AND LIFE PUBLICATIONS
MCPO Box 1820, Makati City 1258, Philippines