For families with young children, peace is the absence of chaos. When a relative or friend offers to take the little ones out for a few hours, mom and dad enjoy the peace of an empty house.
For families with rebellious teens, peace is the absence of discord. A meal together, without sulking or rudeness, is dining in peace.
For quarreling families or couples, peace is the absence of arguments, even though resentments may fester under the surface. There is peace on the surface of things.
For families with more serious problems, substance abuse or domestic violence, peace may be rare, but it is the absence of intoxication or abuse.
Yet whatever peace that exists at the moment contains within it the anxiety about future incidents and the trauma from those occurring in the past.
Some people may have great peace in their lives even when they are undergoing tremendous hardships. And others, though their lives are blessed and rich and relatively free of suffering, struggle to find a moment’s peace.
Upon reflection, we realize that peace is much more than simply an absence. For nations, peace is not the absence of war. Tyranny suppresses violence but most certainly does not bring peace.
Peace, when it is defined as an absence of chaos, discord or trauma, becomes temporal and conditional. Therefore, upon reflection, we see that peace is not, in its true form, an absence.
In the way that love is not an absence of hate, peace is so much more than the absence of difficulties.
True peace, like love, is more than an emotion or a temporal condition. It’s God grace.
When Jesus said, “My peace I give you,” he was not offering us a quiet Sunday afternoon. When in our liturgy, we say “Peace be with you” we are not wishing our neighbor a quarrel-free and chaos-free life.
When we refer to Jesus as the prince of peace, we are not suggesting that He is a grand referee who settles our differences. We are not suggesting that He is only to be found in quiet tabernacles or solemn, solitary prayer. In the midst of all life’s chaos, suffering, and difficulty, Jesus is the one from whom peace emanates and through whom peace among all people can be established.
Peace is God’s gift to us. Through the Incarnation, Jesus restores our relationships with God and with one another.
The peace Jesus brings manifests itself in justice, compassion, truth, and freedom. Jesus’ peace can be experienced in the most traumatic or violent circumstances, because it is not dependent upon external or temporal conditions. It is a condition of the heart.
As His followers, we are called to be, like Jesus, agents of peace.
When we manifest the love of Christ, and, like him, seek truth, charity, justice and freedom for all God’s people, we come to bring His peace to our homes, communities, and countries.
And, by cooperating in God’s work, we help to create a peaceful world