HomeFr Kevin writes...

Peace on earth...

Dear Friends,

As I write, a temporary ceasefire has been announced in Gaza, a respite in the appalling string of atrocities perpetrated, apparently, by both sides who are embroiled in a complex situation. We pray that this will be the beginning of a process that will lead to lasting peace. But real peace isn't simply an absence of noise or strife. The peace spoken of in the Bible is far deeper, of Shalom: a profound sense of wellbeing: peace, harmony, wholeness, completeness, prosperity, welfare and tranquillity.

The author of the letter of James, asks the early Christians, "Those conflicts and disputes among you, where do they come from? Do they not come from your cravings that are at war within you?"

Real lasting peace has to begin in the human heart. Your heart, my heart. Shalom is the peace that Jesus was born to bring us; to put us right with God, with others and with especially with ourselves. For, when we personally experience God's unconditional love, acceptance and forgiveness, we are then able to love, accept and forgive ourselves as we are, and therefore able to love, forgive and accept others as they are. Equally, as Jesus taught in the Lord's Prayer it is only in forgiving others, that we will know God's forgiveness for ourselves.

If the world is to enjoy peace, then peace has to begin with me and with my own relationships. So, when tempted to criticize, back bite, or gossip, might we instead find ways to affirm and praise; to build up rather than tear down? When tempted to hold on to resentment, might we find ways to let things go and, in the grace of God, to build bridges, that will enable understanding, reconciliation and justice?

As we hear again the message of the Christmas angels: the coming of the Prince of Peace to a war torn 'world of sin and strife', might we make this our own prayer:

O God, who would fold both heaven and earth in a single peace:
let the design of thy great love
lighten upon the waste of our wraths and sorrows:
and give peace to thy Church,
peace among nations,
peace in our dwellings,
and peace in our hearts:
and let this begin with me.

With my love and prayers for a truly blessed and peace-filled Christmas,

Fr Kevin.