Christ’s Peace vs the Government’s Peace
ProLifeCorner- Homily given at midnight mass.
“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
It was the great Roman boast: Ara Pacis Augustae – which means, “the era of Augustus’ peace.”
During the first and second centuries of the common era, the Roman empire, from Iberia to Greece, enjoyed a period of relative prosperity and tranquility. In one of the great propaganda campaigns of history, Caesar Augustus was hailed as a “god” and the “savior of the world” for the peace he enforced.
And enforce it he did. Rebellions were quashed without mercy. Troublemakers — or anyone perceived as a potential troublemaker — were eliminated with ruthless efficiency. “Peace” meant everyone in their place, everyone bowing to the power and authority of the emperor, everyone cooperating fully with Rome’s economic and political vision. The celebrated Roman peace was built largely on intimidation and violence against the vulnerable, the poor, the powerless. It was a tense, anxious, costly “peace.”
And then, one night in the backwater country of the great empire, a new vision of peace appears. It is peace centered in that perfect love between a mother and her newborn child. It is peace that brings together heaven and earth, angels and mortals, shepherds and kings, society’s dismissed outcasts and honored elite.
The song heard over the village that night proclaims the peace that will be the character of the kingdom this child will initiate. The Roman peace, built on violence, is eclipsed by an infinitely brighter sun.
My brothers and sisters in Christ, the peace of Christmas reverses the world’s understanding of peace. Peace is not just the absence of strife but the presence of mercy and forgiveness. Peace is not fearful passivity but loving perseverance to reconcile, to bring back, to heal. Peace is not enforced by one’s physical, military, or political power but celebrated in mutual respect and generosity. Peace is not the province of the powerful but the responsibility of all “men and women of good will.” Peace exalts humility, poverty, simplicity, and service. The economy of peace is built on justice for all and the dignity of the most vulnerable.
Christ’s kingdom of peace is radically different than the government’s false peace.
Today, the peace of God dawns. God’s love takes on a human face and heart and body. The work of building God’s kingdom of peace begins on this Christmas Day and begins again every Christmas Day of every year, and especially this year.
Mary, Mother of our Redeemer, pray for us!
Christmas Midnight Mass – Cycle C
Friday, December 25th, 2015