“The wolf will live with the lamb,
The leopard shall lie down with the kid,
He calf and the lion and fatling together,
And a little child shall lead them.”
The imagery is of a future time of universal peace.
There is an innate longing deep within the human heart for peace and harmony. Until Christ comes again to establish the Kingdom of God on earth, it will not be. But until then, He offers his followers internal peace that passes human understanding (see Philippians 4. 6-7). That peace has a transformative quality that can change even devilish people into saints. History is replete with examples.
Prior to his ascension into heaven, Jesus told his disciples, “I am leaving you with a gift ? peace of mind and heart! And the peace I give you isn’t fragile like the peace the world gives. So don’t be troubled or afraid. Remember what I told you ? I am going away, but I will come back to you again.” (John 14.27-28.) The same peace is available to you and me.
Christ’s peace is not a peace given by the world. As Pope Benedict so concisely stated in his book The Infancy Narratives: Jesus of Nazareth (2012): “The peace of Jesus is a peace that the world cannot give. Ultimately the question here is what redemption, liberation and salvation actually mean.” The world cannot give this peace because it does not understand it; it is a spiritual currency that the broken-hearted and contrite understand.
Without Christ, the longing for internal peace is either illusive or counterfeit. Jesus is the author of all we know and all that is unknown (see John 1.1-5 & 12-18). Do not discount this important truth. It is important because even when our world seems to be falling apart we can still have peace in Christ and salvation. His peace is rooted in forgiveness and deliverance from our sins through his sacrificial offering on the cross (see Colossians 1.12-20).
The absence of Christ’s peace can (and does) turn gentle souls into cynical, stone hearted people. The world’s cruelty can sear individual and even collective human consciences. We see this in such things as abortion, child and elder abuse, euthanasia, assisted suicide and pornography that is increasingly common as society turns away from Christ and his teachings.
Despite this, and in the midst of human violence and spiritual corruption, Christ still offers his peace to all who come to know Him. This peace that passes human understanding was made evident to me, even in the storms of life and the terrors of degenerative disability ? especially during the terrors of degeneration! I have found peace of mind and heart, just as Jesus promised. The darker my physical reality becomes the more evident and certain the light of Christ becomes.
There have been times when my disease threatened to engulf me; my prayerful cries were met with a deep peace that overtook the fear. I cannot explain it logically. An inaudible but real message of assurance “Be not afraid, I am with you” descended upon me to over-take the raging flames of terror. I have written about this before.
Jesus referred to the Holy Spirit as the Counselor. The Holy Spirit’s counsel is continually pointing us to the truth of Christ as the way of eternal life. Saint Paul called the Holy Spirit the “Spirit of Christ” (Romans 8.9, Galatians 4.6, Philippians 1.19). It is the spirit of Christ that gives us peace.
Christ has been the source of peace not only in the here and now but year after year, decade after decade, century after century, throughout the ages.
The heavenly host that announced the Messiah’s birth said, “Glory be to God in the highest and on earth peace to those whom his favor rests.” Again, Pope Benedict commented on this passage found in the second Chapter of Luke: “”God’s glory” is not something brought about by men (Glory be to God). The “glory” of God is real, God is glorious, and this is truly a reason for joy: there is truth, there is goodness, there is beauty. It is there?in God? indestructibly.” (The Infancy Narratives, p.74.) The glory of God that angels sung about at Christ’s birth is still available to us.
Christ’s peace is glorious and good and true. It brings joy and hope. My disease and deteriorating health cannot alter any of this. There is nothing that happens to me in this world that can rob me of the eternal hope that is within me.