The Christmas story is the most popular story in the history of the world. It is the most inspiring story they can ever be told. It is about a baby born in a manger, with the angels singing, “Glory to God in the highest, and peace to his people on earth.” But, it was more than just a story of a baby. It was the reality of God, who was born just like each of us. God wanted to be one of us, and wanted to be part of his own creation. The story didn't end at Christmas, because the reason that Jesus came to earth was to die for our sins, so the Christmas story didn't just end at Christmas. At the beginning of life on earth, the angels sang peace, now at the end of his life Jesus says, "Peace.”
It seems that God always wanted to show his love for us. He wanted to show the world, as we followed the Three Kings to the manger, and now Jesus wants to make sure that we know that he was raised from the dead. He wants the Apostles to know that it was really Him. It is the same body as was lying an the manger. At the beginning of Jesus's life on Earth, and now after the resurrection, Jesus is talking about peace- a peace which can only come from God. Peace is God’s will for us. This peace is both personal, and universal. It allows us to live knowing that Jesus will always love us, and it is universal, for all people to know the love of God. Peace means reconciliation, so that when Jesus was born, God was setting aside the sins of the past. Now, Jesus is forgiving the Apostles.
It is the Resurrection of Jesus that always gives us hope. Jesus wasn’t born so He could live in a manger all His life. He had to learn, and to sacrifice. We are called out of the mangers of our lives, to learn each day about Jesus, to go forth to proclaim that God loves us, and that there is eternal life in store for us. The resurrection is the reason that we have Hope. It is the reason not just for our positive attitude, but the reality of real meaning for our lives.
Jesus’ life was one of service, of laying down his life for us, and he calls us to the peace that comes from loving and serving God. Jesus is God. That’s why Luke in the first reading says, that Jesus is not just a good man, a kind and generous person. Jesus is God, the author of life. The one who decided out of love for us to create us; to give us the wonderful gift of life?
When we hear of Jesus, we should be moved that we are given a gift of a wonderful life, not just a positive attitude, but more than that - a deep sense of peace and forgiveness. That is why in the second reading, the Apostle, John, emphasizes that we are forgiven of our sins. That is one of the reasons we become angry, or impatient. Guilt is the burden which we feel because of our turning away from God. God doesn’t hide anything from us; that is why Jesus wanted the Apostles to know everything, and to understand the scriptures. When we hear the Scriptures read to us, the reading from the Old and New Testament, we come to understand that God is in love with us. It becomes clearer to us, because it takes a while to understand it.
This past week, Pope Francis issued an Apostolic Letter, in which he says that each of us is called to holiness - to being close with Christ, to being able to rejoice with and in Christ. Pope Francis tells us not to be afraid of holiness. Do not be afraid of reaching out beyond ourselves. Saints are not just those who lived a long time ago, and did heroic acts, but people who are living today. The people we meet on a daily basis. We should recognize the saints among us, and we should live the life of a saint. Because we can have a living, personal relationship with Jesus, we can seek to bring peace to others- not just here in church, but wherever we go.
As Christians, we are the hope for the world, but we should be at peace within ourselves. We can live in peace because we know the complete story of the love of Jesus, and the eternity that Jesus has given us. Jesus began in peace, was born in peace, and wants us to live eternally in peace. That’s why we say at mass, “Peace be with you.”