Every day seems to bring more bad news—the terrorist attacks in Paris, the killings in Colorado Springs, the mass murders in San Bernardino, the continued police killings, U.S. drone attacks, and so on. Meanwhile, the COP 21 global meetings on climate change in Paris could well determine the fate of the planet.
But Advent reminds us to turn once again in prayer to the God of peace, to start all over preparing for the coming of peace on earth. Advent is a time of peace, prayer, hope and mindful waiting, as we prepare to celebrate the birth of the nonviolent Jesus and his gift of peace on earth.
Advent asks us: Do we want the gift of peace on earth? Do we want to welcome the God of peace in our lives and on earth? What would that look like? How can we become more peaceful within us and around us, and what do we have to do to help make the world more peaceful? How can we welcome the Christ as he comes to us among the immigrant, the poor, the stranger, the homeless, the unwanted? These are the questions of Advent.
One of the Sunday readings from Luke tells us about John the Baptist “who went throughout the whole region of the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.” John prepared the way for Jesus by calling everyone to return to justice, peace and love, that we might be ready for the God of peace. We need to heed John’s advice today, get ready and join his mission to prepare a way for Jesus and his Gospel of nonviolence.
Isaiah and John cry out, “Prepare the way of the Lord. Make straight his paths.” Preparing the way for the Lord means practicing, teaching and promoting nonviolence everywhere, that everyone might finally let go of their violence and become people of Gospel nonviolence, that we can all welcome the gift of Peace on earth.
You may think this is too idealistic, but this is our faith, this is the spiritual life, this is what the church and the sacraments are intended to do. God is a God of peace, and comes to us in the nonviolent Jesus, and as his followers, we are supposed to be peacemakers who work for the abolition of war and the causes of war and a new world of peace.
I’ve been writing on Huffington Post lately about the need to go as deep as we can into inner nonviolence and in our relationships with others, and do our part to help build up the grassroots movement of nonviolence. That’s why I work to organize Campaign Nonviolence, and I hope you will join me. (www.campaignnonviolence.org)
I hope this Advent and this Christmas are a time of peace and prayer for you, that your practice of nonviolence takes you to a deeper place, that you might welcome the nonviolent Jesus and his Christmas gift of peace in your hearts, and determine all the more to fulfill your vocation to be a peacemaker.
May the God of peace bless us all! Merry Christmas, Fr. John