Saturday of the Third Week of Advent
"Justice shall flourish in His time, and fullness of peace forever."
During this season of Advent we have been reminded again and again by the prophet Isaiah of God’s promise of the gift of justice and peace. The word "justice" seems to be a bit distant and even a bit cold. I guess it’s because it is associated so closely with the law. But if the truth be told, justice is interested in promoting and defending the dignity of every human being. As to peace we can cozy up to it without much of a problem.
I believe that the gift of these two promises can get anchored realistically in the gifts that we will receive at Christmas from family and friends. Quite nice to look at the names of our givers. So touching to know that they kept us in mind. Gifts have a way of letting us know that we are loved and appreciated in so many ways. So how does justice fit in?
Have you noticed that when a gift is given to you on either Christmas Eve or Christmas Day it is usually preceded with "Merry Christmas. I love you!" And often, sealed with a kiss. We know that many of our gifts do eventually wear out or that the box of candy gets eaten! But that love continues to circle around within us. "Look at what I got for Christmas! Isn’t it beautiful? And, here…have some of these delicious chocolates!" How does one feel throughout all of this? Put simply, just wonderful, just great! You have been graced with justice. You have been singled out. You have that sense of being noticed and loved for who you are. So often gifts will be carefully chosen to please the individual, because you are special. Ah, now we have some sense of that word "justice" and it fits so well with "peace!" Justice has a goal of noticing the individual as a unique gift and loved for who one is. Justice works to remove the obstacles that get in the way of one’s ongoing growth. Justice works to bring to the individual what will help.
One of the deep and touching truths of Christmas is that Jesus, your precious Christmas gift, loves you as you are. Oh, don’t say you are not perfect because you’ve made some mistakes. True! But you’ve also done some wonderful things in the course of your life up to this point. Friendship reaches out to the person, loves the person and frees the person to grow into the unique individual one is. Love does not want to control anyone. Love sticks with a friend when things are not going right. Love also encourages a friend,
And so, as we wait the celebration Jesus’ birthday are you and I open to the precious gift of His love? Many of us in our teens, young adult years or older will realize that Jesus will not remain a tiny baby. He will grow into an adult. As you kneel before the nativity scene, can you just be quiet within and hear Him saying, "Let’s continue to be friends, let’s love each other. If you are in your teens or young adult years or are now moving along into your later years or into your senior years, I am with you." And with a smile on his face He will hand you back your baby picture and, looking you directly in the face, will say, "I love you as you are now."
Fr. Peter Berendt, C.P. is on the staff of Holy Name Passionist Retreat Center, Houston, Texas.