Every time we participate in Mass, our priests offer us the peace of Christ, we offer that heavenly peace back to those around us, and then we pray for peace throughout the world. Peace is a central theme throughout the liturgy and liturgical year, and should therefore be central in the life of a Christian. But we often give this theme extra attention and contemplation during the Advent and Christmas seasons. It is especially relevant if we find ourselves needing rest from a long year and hoping for peace in the one to come. This is certainly where I find myself. But as I have reflected recently on peace, I have discovered how deeply I have misunderstood this essential part of my faith in my personal life.
The Peace of Christ
Jesus says, “Peace I leave you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you” (John 14:27). The world says love is a feeling and when that feeling is gone, so is the love. As a follower of Christ, I know better, and so I know that when Jesus speaks of peace, He is offering a kind the world cannot give. The world can offer a temporary feeling or state of peace, but not lasting, eternal peace.
This way of understanding heavenly peace is new to me. Peace has always been a something I thought I could achieve on my own if I could muster up the will to stop worrying and have more faith. I could never understand why it seemed unattainable until I had a personal revelation about peace and discovered two essential keys to finding and maintaing peace in my life.
Know Jesus, Know Peace
In Luke Chapter 8, a sick woman touches the cloak of Jesus and is immediately healed. Jesus says to the woman, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace.” This relationship between Jesus and the woman results in peace. First she finds Jesus, then she finds peace. The first step to experiencing peace in our lives is to remember that Jesus is constantly offering the gift of peace to us because we have a relationship with Him. To find peace we must return to the source of every good and perfect gift in our lives, which is our relationship with Jesus. The seed of peace was planted when we began our conversion journey, whenever that was and continues to be. This means that as our relationship with Jesus grows, so will the amount of peace we experience. We know from Jesus’ example that this does not mean we will be granted a life free from turmoil and strife. But we will know unshakeable peace as we walk through difficult situations because we know Who we belong to and where we are going.
Rediscovering that a relationship with Jesus is our source of peace in life begs another question. How do we maintain this relationship, and, therefore, a state of peace? Prayer, studying Scripture, and recieving the Sacraments are all essential to mainatianing a relationship. There is one other tool I think is helpful. This one is particularly revelvant as we contemplate what Advent and Christmas mean for our relationship with God.
Jesus says in Matthew 5:9, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” Not only does God want us to experience peace in our own lives like Jesus did when He walked the earth, He calls us to bring peace into a world that largely does not know it. As we bring the peace of Christ to others in a soup kitchen, or by visiting a greiving widow, or by giving a child a gift this season, we are doing those things to Christ. As the Scripture says, when we act as peacemakers, we are acting like who He claims us to be – His beloved children. No other knowlegdge can bring about heavenly peace like knowing we are claimed by God as His beloved children. Furthermore, if we are helping those around us experience greater peace, how can we not benefit in our own experience of peace? As St. Theresa of Calcutta so wisely stated:
The fruit of service is peace.
True Heavenly Peace
During Christmas, we celebrate the Incarnation. Jesus humbly came to us in the flesh as a helpless baby. As He grew, He entered into relationships with others to serve and love them unconditionally. We know Jesus experienced peace even as He lived, by human standards, a difficult life as a poor and despised man. He experienced peace through His relationship with the Father and brought peace to those around Him as he did with the woman who touched His cloak. As we nurture our relationship with the Lord and, through His example, humble ourselves by loving serving others, we can all experience this great gift He offers us. May this Advent and Christmas season result in a renewed relationship with the Prince of Peace and a commitment to spread that heavenly peace throughout the world with tidings of comfort and joy.
How do you find the peace of Christ in your own life?
Bond Strong lives in the mountains of Southwest, VA with her husband, Reece, and son, Willis. She is a former Methobapticostal whose written conversion story has been featured on The Coming Home Network website and shared on Sirius XM’s Seize the Day with Gus Lloyd. She believes in the power of a good meal, good beer, and lively conversation. You can learn more about her here.