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In the second week of Advent we light the second purple candle of the Advent wreath and we pray for peace. Our world, our communities and our families long for peace, but the possibility can seem very remote! Maybe that’s why we began Advent by nurturing hope? Praying for peace comes very naturally, but peaceful living can be more of a challenge.
In the readings for the midnight Mass this Christmas, we will hear from Isiah:
“For there is a child born for us,
a son given to us
and dominion is laid upon his shoulders;
and this is the name they give him:
Eternal-Father, Prince-of-Peace.” (Is 9: 6)
These titles tell us something about what the dominion or Reign of this God-child is like – it is a peaceful reign. By showing us how to live in right relationship with ourselves, with each other, with God, and with the whole of God’s creation, Jesus is seen to be a peacemaker. As Isiah goes on to say “He will reign on David’s throne and over all his kingdom; he will establish and uphold it with justice and righteousness (Is 9:7).
The Reign of God is not just a future event for which we simply wait. In celebrating Christmas we will remember that the Reign of God is already present and active among us. God invites us to participate in its unfolding until, in the fullness of time, God brings it to completion. We don’t just wish for a peaceful world, peaceful communities and peaceful families – we are called to live in a way that brings these things into being. It is a way of making the kingdom of justice, love and peace announced by the Prince of Peace manifest in the world.
How can we be peacemakers and witnesses God’s reign in the world today? Blessed Paul VI said “If you want peace, work for justice.” So many participants in wars and in acts of terror see themselves as working for justice, but Jesus chose the path of non-violence. He overcame violence by refusing to engage in it. If we follow this path, we too must be prepared to suffer rather than inflict suffering. The peace that we pray for requires courage and steadfast faith.
Let us pray in this second week of Advent for the wisdom and courage to be peacemakers.
Advent Prayer for Peace
Jesus, Prince of Peace,
banish from our souls
whatever might endanger peace.
Transform us into witnesses
of truth, justice and love.
Enlighten the minds of rulers
that they may care for their peoples
and guarantee them the gift of peace.
Inflame our desires
to break through the barriers that divide us,
to strengthen the bonds of mutual love,
to learn to understand one another,
to pardon those who have done us wrong.
Jesus, Prince of Peace,
through your power and inspiration,
may all peoples welcome each other to their hearts
as sisters and brothers.
And may the peace they long for
ever flower and ever reign among them.
Adapted from Pacem in Terris n 171 by Sandie Cornish