THEME: “Peaceful Preparation: PEACE IS? Gift, fruit and sign”.
Today is the second Sunday of Advent, a season of preparation and anticipation for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Advent is also a time to reflect on the themes of hope, peace, joy and love that are central to our Christian faith. Today, we will focus on the theme of peace, which is symbolized by the second candle of the Advent wreath.
What is peace? How do we define it? How do we experience it? How do we share it? These are some of the questions that we may ask ourselves as we seek to understand the meaning of peace in our lives and in our world. Peace is not just the absence of war or violence. Peace is not just a feeling of calmness or tranquillity. Peace is not just a state of harmony or agreement. Peace is much more than that. Peace is a gift from God, a fruit of the Spirit, a sign of the kingdom, a witness to the gospel, and a call to discipleship.
Peace is a gift from God, who is the source of all peace. In the first reading from Isaiah, we hear the words of comfort and consolation that God speaks to his people who are in exile in Babylon. God promises to end their suffering, to forgive their sins, to restore their land, and to lead them back home. God says, “Comfort, O comfort my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and cry to her that she has served her term, that her penalty is paid, that she has received from the Lord’s hand double for all her sins.” (Isaiah 40:1-2) God also reveals his power and glory, his care and compassion, his justice and mercy, as he comes to his people like a shepherd who feeds his flock, who gathers the lambs in his arms, and who gently leads the mother sheep. (Isaiah 40:10-11) God gives his people peace by assuring them of his presence, his love, and his salvation.
Peace is a fruit of the Spirit, who is the giver of all peace. In the second reading from 2 Peter, we hear the words of encouragement and exhortation that the apostle Peter writes to his fellow Christians who are waiting for the second coming of Christ. Peter reminds them that God is not slow about his promise, but is patient with them, not wanting any to perish, but all to come to repentance. (2 Peter 3:9) Peter also urges them to live holy and godly lives, to be diligent in being found by him without spot or blemish, and to regard the patience of the Lord as salvation. (2 Peter 3:11-15) Peter tells them that the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and that the heavens and the earth will be dissolved by fire, and that a new heaven and a new earth will be created, where righteousness will dwell. (2 Peter 3:10, 13) Peter gives them peace by inspiring them to hope, to faith, and to grace.
Peace is a sign of the kingdom, which is the reign of all peace. In the gospel reading from Mark, we hear the words of proclamation and preparation that John the Baptist speaks to the people of Israel who are longing for the Messiah. John announces the good news of God, who is coming to his people in the person of Jesus Christ. John says, “The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.” (Mark 1:1) John also calls the people to repentance, to baptism, and to forgiveness of sins. John says, “I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.” (Mark 1:8) John points to Jesus, who is the one who is more powerful than him, who is the one who is the fulfillment of the prophecies, who is the one who is the Lamb of God, who is the one who is the Prince of Peace. John gives them peace by inviting them to conversion, to renewal, and to discipleship.
Peace is a witness to the gospel, which is the message of all peace. As followers of Jesus Christ, we are called to be peacemakers, to be agents of peace, to be instruments of peace in our world. We are called to share the peace that we have received from God, from the Spirit, and from the kingdom with others. We are called to spread the peace that we have experienced in our lives through our words and actions, through our attitudes and behaviors, through our relationships and communities. We are called to show the peace that we have in our hearts by being gentle and humble, by being kind and compassionate, by being forgiving and reconciling, by being loving and generous. We are called to live the peace that we have in our souls by being faithful and obedient, by being prayerful and thankful, by being joyful and hopeful, by being holy and godly.
Peace is a call to discipleship, which is the way of all peace. As disciples of Jesus Christ, we are challenged to follow him, to imitate him, to learn from him, and to grow in him. We are challenged to follow him who is the way, the truth, and the life. We are challenged to imitate him who is the light, the love, and the grace. We are challenged to learn from him who is the master, the teacher, and the friend. We are challenged to grow in him who is the vine, the bread, and the water. We are challenged to follow him who is the Prince of Peace, who said, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.” (John 14:27)
Brothers and sisters in Christ, as we continue our journey of Advent, let us pray for the gift of peace, let us cultivate the fruit of peace, let us seek the sign of peace, let us share the witness of peace, and let us answer the call of peace. Let us pray that the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard our hearts and our minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:7) Let us pray that the God of peace, who brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, will make us complete in everything good so that we may do his will, working among us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen. (Hebrews 13:20-21) Let us pray that the Lord of peace himself will give us peace at all times in all ways. (2 Thessalonians 3:16) Amen.