Peace to Men
Presence of God – I place myself at the feet of the Infant Jesus to meditate on the angels’ hymn: “Peace on earth to men of good will” (Luke 2:14).
At Bethlehem the angels announced two things: glory to God and peace to men; the one corresponds to the other. No one glorifies God as much as that little Babe lying on the straw. He alone, being the eternal Word, can give God the perfect, infinite praise that is worthy of Him. And no one more than Jesus, our Savior, brings peace to men; making reparation for sin, He reconciles man with His Creator and establishes a new covenant between them: the Creator will become Father, and man, His son.
Something similar is verified in our daily life. Those who obey God’s law enjoy peace; observing the divine law they also glorify God. The glory of God corresponds perfectly to the peace of men. But we are treating of that peace which comes only from Jesus, from His grace, peace which we will seek in vain elsewhere.
“Peace is the tranquility of order.” Order is established by the law and will of God. Those who respect this order fully, possess the plenitude of interior peace; those who depart from it, even in a slight degree, lose their peace in proportion to their deviation from it. Peace is the refreshment and repose of the soul in the midst of the struggles and sorrows of life, but this is not the only reason for which we should try to obtain and possess it. We should desire it above all because it gives glory to God.
I give You thanks, O Jesus, for the infinite glory which You give to Your divine Father, making up for all the inability and insufficiency of Your poor creatures! You are the perfect praise of glory of the Blessed Trinity, the splendor of Their glory: praise and thanksgiving I render to You, O Lord! You could have glorified Your Father without caring for us who had offended Him. What need did God have of our happiness and welfare? But You, the most merciful, wanted to glorify Your Father precisely by obtaining salvation for us and giving us peace. Oh! how much I long for that peace which You came to bring into the world! You alone can give it to me, You alone can wholly pacify my poor heart, which is too often torn between the demands of Your divine love and the violence of my passions or the attractions of the world.
O Lord, give me Your peace; let it establish Your kingdom in me and make me a praise of glory of Your Holy Name. But it is Your will that, while I hope for everything from Your grace and mercy, I should not fail to labor assiduously to obtain this Your great gift.
You will give me peace if I have “good will”: a sincere will, which clings strictly to the good, without duplicity or artifice, without secondary ends or compromises. O Lord, give me this upright will which never wanders from the good and true; even when the truth stings, and discloses all my weaknesses, give me courage to love it, to accept it wholly, just as it is, and to act accordingly. O Lord, I also want my will to be submissive to the smallest sign from You, like a light sailboat which follows every breath of wind with docility. Alas, my will is still so tenacious, so obstinate and hard to bend, so firm in its stand! Make it supple, O sweetest Jesus, who came down from heaven to earth to carry out Your Father’s will.
Strengthen my will also, so that I may be enabled to conquer every repugnance, every vacillation and hesitation, especially when I have to overcome difficulties and face sacrifice. O Lord, I desire to have an upright, resolute will, that I may go straight to You, with the swiftness of an arrow; a will as supple as a wave which obeys the wind, that I may follow every indication of Your will. Then there will be no division between my will and Yours; there will be perfect union, perfect peace. O Jesus, what a high ideal You have given man, whom You have redeemed! Man was living in sin, and was therefore as far away from God as sin is from infinite perfection. By your precious merits You not only raised him from the abyss in which he lay, but called him to union with God. By Your mediation, the Master and Judge becomes the Father, Friend, and Spouse of the soul of good will!
O Jesus, how much You have given us, how much You have given me! Eternal praise be to You!
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Art: Angels Announcing the Birth of Christ to the Shepherds, Govert Flinck, 1639, PD-US, Wikimedia Commons. Father Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen, mirror from open source material.