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December 20, 2015

Peace is a central theme of Christmas. Most of the Christmas cards have the words: 'Peace and Joy'. In all our Christmas letters we write: 'May the peace and joy of Christmas be with you' and so on. Peace cannot be separated from any true celebration of Christmas. Today, being the last Sunday before Christmas, the Lord is perhaps asking us all to reflect a little on the importance of peace and to wait eagerly to receive it.

Peace is one of the central themes in the Bible. The word 'peace' appears there about 150 times. In the Old Testament the future Messiah is called the 'Prince of Peace' (Is 9:6), and in today's first reading, we heard: 'He shall be peace'. The word is found 64 times in the New Testament alone. Peace was the parting gift of Christ to his disciples. He said: 'Peace I leave with you, my peace I give you' (Jn 14:27). On his arrival to our world the angels sang: 'Peace to men of good will'. So his birth announced peace, his life with us showed us the true meaning of peace and finally, at his leaving us, he gives us his special peace to stay with us. Often after the resurrection Christ greeted his disciples with the words: 'Peace be with you'. Peace is one of the signs by which a Christian is to be identified in the world. 'Make me a true Christian, make me a true instrument of peace'. This could be the prayer for every Christian today, as we wait to celebrate the birthday of this great peace-maker.

It is worth noting that often in the Bible peace is associated with other ideas like tranquility, happiness, harmony, well-being, concord etc. A characteristic note of the 21st century is cleavage, conflict, division and disharmony. Peace is the greatest need of our age.

There is disharmony in the individual person. Even though the individual person is one, he can be at war with himself. Often he is a divided and confused person. There is lack of harmony.

This disunity in turn points to a further disunity that exists between one human person and another. One half of the human race is at war with the other half: war between the haves and the have-nots, between the powerful and the powerless, between rich and poor nations, between religious radicals and the rest.

All these disunities are a symptom of the most tragic disunity of all: the rupture that exists between man and God.

The only solution for our age is a return to God, the source of all unity and harmony.  All of us need to return to our roots -God - the source of true harmony. When this deepest harmony is established, then the other two disharmonies we have spoken of would resolve themselves. Each person would be at peace with the other, and he/she would also experience inner peace of mind.

Mary and Elizabeth are two women who experienced peace in their lives. The first one, Mary, could accept God's plan in perfect harmony. She accepts Jesus into her life, into her womb. An overwhelming radiance of peace and joy goes out from her to her cousin. Mary goes in haste, because there is an inner urge to share her peace with others. In the process the other is also transformed. The other also becomes an apostle. This is the Christian mission, an on-going sharing of Christ.

The 21st century needs more and more Marys and Elizabeths to be channels of peace. May Christ the source of peace, come into our lives today and transform us with his lasting peace, so that tomorrow we may transform others.