Need peace? Jesus is ‘Our Savior’ because He saves us from sins, hatreds, broken relationships

My dear brothers and sisters in Christ, 

“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” This is the message proclaimed by the angel announcing the birth of Our Savior, Christ the Lord (Luke 2:10-14). More than two thousand years after the birth of Jesus, we continue to pray for peace on earth as war rages on between Russia and Ukraine, as well as between Hamas and Israel. While these wars are being fought with lethal weapons, there are many other situations where peace is lacking. Perhaps there are people even in our own lives with whom we are not at peace, not in the sense of violent attacks, but simply relationships in tension because of some animosity, envy, rivalry, or resentment.

How do we find peace in such situations? It may sound simplistic to say that true peace is found in Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace, but true peace is indeed found in Our Savior, Christ the Lord. We call Jesus Our Savior precisely because He saves us from our sins, our hatreds, and our broken relationships. The fact that peace still eludes us is not due to any fault on the part of Our Savior, but is the result of our own failures to embrace fully the Gospel way of life to which Jesus calls us. How can we learn to live in such a way as to make peace a reality in our world?

This past year marked the sixtieth anniversary of the Encyclical Letter of Pope St. John XXIII, Pacem in terris (Peace on Earth), promulgated on April 16, 1963. In it, the Holy Father wrote, “Peace on Earth-which man throughout the ages has so longed for and sought after-can never be established, never guaranteed, except by the diligent observance of the divinely established order.” In this historic document, Pope St. John XXIII described the essential elements required for order among human beings, including respect for the rights of others, fulfilling the duties for which we are responsible, living in accord with the moral order established by God, and working for the common good, which involves promoting spiritual as well as material prosperity.

Echoing his predecessor, Pope St. Paul VI in his Message for the World Day of Peace on January 1, 1972, wrote, “If you want peace, work for justice.” He described this as “an invitation which does not ignore the difficulties in practicing Justice, in defining it, first of all, and then in actuating it, for it always demands some sacrifice of prestige and self-interest. Perhaps more greatness of soul is needed for yielding to the ways of Justice and Peace than for fighting for and imposing on an adversary one’s rights, whether true or alleged.”

In his last Message for the World Day of Peace on January 1, 2005,Pope St. John Paul II chose as his theme Saint Paul’s words in the Letter to the Romans: “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (12:21). The Holy Father wrote, “From the beginning, humanity has known the tragedy of evil and has struggled to grasp its roots and to explain its causes. Evil is not some impersonal, deterministic force at work in the world. It is the result of human freedom. Freedom, which distinguishes human beings from every other creature on earth, is ever present at the heart of the drama of evil. Evil always has a name and a face: the name and face of those men and women who freely choose it. . . . At its deepest level, evil is a tragic rejection of the demands of love. Moral good, on the other hand, is born of love, shows itself as love and is directed towards love. All this is particularly evident to Christians, who know that their membership in the one mystical Body of Christ sets them in a particular relationship not only with the Lord but also with their brothers and sisters. The inner logic of Christian love, which in the Gospel is the living source of moral goodness, leads even to the love of one’s enemies.”

Pointing to the saving power of the Holy Eucharist, Pope St. John Paul II concluded by expressing his hope that “the sons and daughters of the Church find in the supreme sacrament of love the wellspring of all communion: communion with Jesus the Redeemer and, in Him, with every human being. By Christ’s death and resurrection, made sacramentally present in each Eucharistic celebration, we are saved from evil and enabled to do good. Through the new life which Christ has bestowed on us, we can recognize one another as brothers and sisters, despite every difference of language, nationality and culture. In a word, by sharing in the one bread and the one cup, we come to realize that we are ‘God’s family’ and that together we can make our own effective contribution to building a world based on the values of justice, freedom and peace.”

I wish you and your family a Merry Christmas!May God give us this grace. Amen.