This is the season when a familiar question begins echoing in homes throughout the land: “What do you want for Christmas?” We’ve all heard answers ranging from reasonable (a kitchen wish, a toy truck, a sweater) to poignant (a job, good health, friends) to outrageous (A desktop punching bag, a sports car). Compared to the actual promise of Christmas, though, even the most ambitious wish list falls short. God invites us and our families to set our sights on something higher – to seek nothing less than the peace on earth announced by angels at the birth of Jesus (Luke 2:14).
Peace is the deepest need and longing of our hearts and of our world. And peace is the lasting gift that Jesus came to bring. Throughout his life on earth, he spoke peace to all who would listen. He declared peacemakers “blessed” and called his followers to continue his mission of peace and reconciliation.
Advent is the perfect opportunity to receive this gift in a new and deeper way. As the season begins, prayerfully reflect on a few questions. Then talk them over with your spouse or a good friend: Lord, where do you want to bring peace? How can I cooperate with your plan? What can my family and I offer you this Advent to further your work of bringing peace on earth?
Here are a few simple thoughts to help you draw up your own plan for how to “seek peace and pursue it” this Advent (Psalm 34:15).
A peaceful pace: Begin Advent with a critical look at the calendar, slashing all but the most necessary commitments. Then fill in some of those resulting holes in your schedule with spiritual pursuits such as weekday Mass, Scripture reading, or an hour of adoration.
Peace with God: We can talk with our children or our friends about what it means to have peace with the Lord and then take advantage of Advent penance services and go to Confession together.
Peace with one another: A good prayer for this project is the one attributed to St. Francis of Assisi: “Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.”
Messengers of Peace: Reach out to a lonely neighbor, shut-in, or other person in need.
You can’t guarantee that no one will give you oven mitts, an ugly tie, or some other odd gift this Christmas. But no matter what you find under the tree, you’ll find the right gift in your heart – if you’ve made peace your Advent theme.
Wishing you all a grace-filled Advent!