Advent Reflection: True Peace

Seasons Greetings!

It would be nice if Superman was real. At least, that's what I caught myself thinking recently while driving home. I was listening to a story on the radio about drug cartels in Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas Mexico. There, ordinary citizens have been taking to the Internet to report cartel activity in order to keep their streets safe (for instance, they might report that a shootout is occurring on a certain block). In response, the cartels have killed many of these people, displaying their bodies publicly as a means of intimidation.

Alone, this story would be distressing, but it just so happened that, on the same day of hearing this story, Fr. Tom Marti had shared with me the homily spoken at the funeral Mass of Father Fausto Tentorio, PIME, an Italian missionary priest and witness to Christ's justice who was assassinated recently in the Philippines. And so, I thought, Wouldn't it be great if Superman were here? Drug cartels and military squads certainly would not be able to stop him as easily as they can stop the rest of us.

With Christmas upon us, though, I began to reflect on the birth of Christ. Like me, many people of Christ's time were hoping for a "Superman" of sorts - a leader that would liberate them and establish God's Reign through a military victory. Instead, God sent the Son to us through Jesus. Through his birth, the witness of his life and, ultimately, his death and resurrection, we see not the power of God's fist, but the power of God's love. He liberates us not through war and violence, but through the joy of witnessing his message to one another, of sharing in that love. And it is only through this love, through our very selves as God's hands, that this world will see an end to violence.

Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke of the difference between positive and negative peace. The latter, which is the absence of violence but also the absence of love, respect, human dignity, and justice, might well be achieved if Superman were around. Indeed, in many places we can already see this "peace": we commend a lack of public violence while ignoring all of the pain, anger, and injustice brewing just beneath the surface. But positive peace, the peace of love and justice which is, ultimately, the Reign of God on Earth, can only be achieved through the Way of Christ.

So, this Advent season, let us rejoice at the coming of the Lord! Let us not ignore the suffering taking place all around us, but take solace in the fact that God has made known the means of our salvation.