Therefore, beloved, since you await these things, be eager to be found without spot or blemish before him, at peace.
In the first week of Advent, we focused on hope. We learned that we stand in charge, each with our own kingdom task â€“ to offer hope. We asked that on Jesusâ€™ return He would find us expectantly waiting and offering the hope found in His name.
This week we focus on peace, both personal peace and being peace.
In Isaiah we hear of God setting things right by freeing His people from sin. The herald is to come and prepare the landscape for the arrival of the Messiah. All is to be leveled, i.e., brought back to balance in preparation. For His arrival. The herald proclaims the good news â€“ the Savior is near!
So, that is exactly what happens. John the Baptist, the herald arrives to cry out the good news. Through a baptism of repentance, people are forgiven and re-leveled. The valleys and hills in their personalities are leveled out so that they might have peace. The tensions, sorrows, weights and chains, frenzy that urges us to sin is cleared and we are brought back to peace. Our paths are cleared of sin so we may approach and meet the Savior.
Indeed, the Lord is returning, so as St. Paul teaches, we are to be the sort of people who conduct themselves in holiness and devotion so we may be found without spot or blemish. Paul wraps this all up and says we are to be found at peace.
This is a good time, and indeed the right time to consider our own hills and valleys, the obstacles between me and Jesus. What barriers am I putting in the way? What trenches am I digging? Is it anger and pride, my convincing myself I am right over all? Is it placing my trust in people or believing whatever self-serving truths are handed to me? Is it habitual sin or attractions that are unhealthy? There is a lot we can do to destroy peace and accord between each other and in the world and to mess up the straight path between ourselves and God.
Our first step is to get to personal peace with God through proper confession of sin, resolution to resist sin, penance for sins committed, repentance and reconciliation, and prayers for the grace necessary to stay on the level and straight peace-filled path to God. Once our valleys are filled in and our hills are leveled, we are to move to the next step, being Godâ€™s heralds of peace.
See, we could live in conflict. We could continue to toss Molotov cocktails in our words and actions, but doing so only burns us, for as St. Paul recounts: the earth and everything done on it will be found out. We will be accountable for our spiritual state and what we bring, and let it always be Godâ€™s peace.