From: Mary Zimmerman
I’ve looked so forward to writing this particular article on peace but it will be difficult to keep it short, especially after having read a lot about Mattie Stepanek and his quest to bring peace into a world that so lacks peace, a whole story for another day. Mattie died at the age of 13 of a rare type of MS. In his short life he put his whole heart and soul into working for peace through his poems he called his heart songs. Compiled into books, his many speeches and his strong faith in God. Mattie shed many tears upon learning the U.S. attacked Iraq. He felt that just wasn’t the way toward peace as many of us feel as well. If you can cry in heaven, I’m sure he’s shedding tears over the Afghanistan war as well. Here are just a few of Mattie’s words: “Blessed are those who bear the torch of hope, for they shall have peace.” For more information on Mattie visit www.mattieonline.com.
We hear the word peace so very often through my church service (the Mass), then shortly before Communion we exchange a greeting in some way, usually a handshake. At first I didn’t understand this gesture at such a moment. Now I think I do. It’s to make peace with those around us (with our hand but especially our heart). It better prepares our hearts for Jesus to come into. That makes sense doesn’t it? “Love God above all things and your neighbor as yourself.” It just all fits together.
Sometimes we think of peace as the absence of war. We all know too well in today’s war-torn world we don’t have that peace. Yet we are called to be peaceful, peacemaking people, letting our hopes and dreams drift toward thoughts of peace. Like Mattie wrote, if we ourselves can have a personal peace, then extend this the best one can throughout your family, friends and neighbors, then peace can in a miraculous way affect the whole world which could then enjoy peace instead of suffering the effects of war.
When my son, Duane, (now deceased), was a teenager he was asked to make a banner for church. It consisted of hands extended out in peace to one another. One hand was white, one black, and one brown. Now I realize I had a son who was working for peace in his own way.
Anyway this Advent season is the time to reflect on peace and so much more. Parents, teachers, grandparents, we need to traditionally educate children as to just what Christmas is all about. The evil one is working overtime to try to camouflage and commercialize Christmas and other holidays into a materialistic world that wants to squeeze baby Jesus out of the picture. Like I told my grandson Matt, why should we get all the presents? After all it’s Jesus’ birthday. I told him to wrap up his heart in love and prayers for baby Jesus, as his gift to Him.
Merry Christmas everyone. May the peace of Christ be with you always.