Thursday Reflection – July 11, 2019
God’s gift of Peace “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those he favors!” Luke 2:14
Our passage today from St. Luke 2 is centered on the birth of Jesus. The Roman Emperor, Augustus, decreed that a census should be taken throughout the Roman Empire and each person should return to their home town to facilitate the census being taken. Joseph, Jesus’s earthly father, was from Bethlehem and had to travel there from Nazareth in Galilee with his wife Mary who was visible pregnant to take the census. Whilst in Bethlehem Mary gave birth to Jesus. The same night he was born an angel appeared to shepherds tending their flock nearby, sharing with them the good news of the Messiah’s birth. Suddenly, the angel was joined by a host of other angels praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those he favors!” After the angels left, the shepherds went to Bethlehem to bear witness of what was spoken by the angels.
In analyzing the message of the angels we first need to break it down, that we may have a greater understanding. The angels began with a statement of praise, “Glory to God in the highest heaven.” They offered praise to God for the birth of Jesus. I ask the question why? The answer to that question is in the second part of the message. The angels stated, “… on earth peace among those he favors.” Who are those favored by God? Those favored by God are those who accept the Good News of Jesus. Those who are favored will receive peace.
What is this peace offered by God? Jesus said in John 14:27, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” Jesus said this in the context of preparing his disciples for his death, resurrection and ascension. I do not give you as the world gives can be translated I do not give you the peace that the world has. Peace according to the dictionary is defined as freedom from disturbance; tranquility or a period where there is no war or where war has ended. If Jesus says that he does not give us as the world does and the world defines peace as the absence of trouble then what is this peace offered by Jesus and that the angels are talking about?
The peace given to those favored by God is not the absence of war, or troubles or difficulties, rather it is the peace of mind and heart that only Jesus can give. Only Jesus can give it, because we do not know what it truly is until we experience Jesus. It’s illogical to be facing difficulties in life and still be at peace, but this is what Jesus offers. Not until we truly understand what Jesus offers will we be able to experience peace. Remember those who accept Jesus are favored by God and are given peace, but we do not truly experience this peace until we fully understand what Jesus offers.
What is Jesus offering? Jesus is offering God’s security in a world of turmoil, therefore we can be at peace. We do not have to worry about the troubles of this world, what we will wear or eat, nor fear death the greatest enemy for God has and is dealing with those and the fact that Jesus is dealing with those challenges we can be at peace.
Let us rejoice and praise God for those who have accepted Jesus are favored by God and will receive peace.Until next week, praise God for the gift of peace.