Have you ever looked at a chart of the planets?
It’s beautiful, really. You see the planets and their moons all orbiting in an exact precision around the sun. There is a perfect, divine order about it that I find both comforting and calming.
The earliest words in the Old Testament assure us that God created the heavens and the earth, and they assure us that His creation is good. I believe it.
There are videos on YouTube with animated images of the planets revolving around the sun. When I watch them, they inspire me and fill me with awe and wonder. I love watching the power created by the planets as they orbit, and I love the precision of those orbits.
To me, there is an Authority in the rhythm, and there is a reassurance that all is well. I know that God is in charge.
For me, there is peace.
And of course, peace is good. It’s what we pray for when we pray to be filled with the Fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
But as we leave the view of the planets, and head towards our own Pale Blue Dot, what do we find?
How close to earth do we need to be to see the fires in Syria? The orange and the green banners in Northern Ireland? The barricades in Hong Kong?
The hunger? The disease? The discord?
The hatred? The jealousy?
Some days it seems as though peace is so elusive that we may never find it again.
To me, that’s sad, especially at this time of the year.
Now is the sacred time when we prepare as Catholics to receive our Prince of Peace.
Isaiah foretold of it: “For a Child will be born to us, a Son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.”
How do we reconcile the turmoil of our world with the hunger for peace in our hearts?
It can be done, but there’s quite a price to it, according to St. Paul.
He advises removing all evil desire and greed. He says to put away all anger, slander and lies.
In their place, he suggests that we clothe ourselves with kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. He insists that we forgive, and most of all, that we love.
We must let the peace of Jesus control our hearts.
It’s as simple — or as difficult — as that.
This Christmas, let’s remember how the heavens rejoiced at the birth of the Christ Child. We can too!