And now He comes into our midst, not to judge us, but to forgive us, to assure us of the peace that the world can't give; a peace that comes only from God, a peace that's personal, discovered deep within our spirit. And now, after Bethlehem, He challenges us, "As God has sent me, I send you too." He wants us to do the same thing He has done. And He breathes on us and says, "Peace be with you. Receive the Holy Spirit." What Bethlehem really means is that God puts on a human form and He brings about a new creation. Now we are different from the human beings we were before because we're filled with God's Spirit. Now we "Receive the Holy Spirit," that Jesus breathes on us. We become radically new, radically different, and alive with the same life of the infant Jesus we meet in the manger. That is what it means when Jesus says, "As God sent me, I also send you." Jesus sends us into the world just as He was sent; to transform it. Now we live according to His way, radically different from the way of the world around us, radically different from the culture we find ourselves in. Now we live according to the values of Jesus so that we can transform the world. What is the most important value that Jesus wants us to bring into our world? It's the very thing that Jesus Himself shares with us at the manger and in the upper room; peace. The peace that only God can give, the peace that comes from true love and mercy. It clearly is the most important value in the life of Jesus. In the New Year, our resolution should be to bring this peace into everything that we do. That peace begins internally and only works if we are really peaceful people. The Christian manifesto known as the Sermon on the Mount admonishes us to liberate ourselves from all tendency for vengeance, anger, retaliation, envy, hostility, and every other self-destructive disposition as the only real basis for peace. Christ said nothing is more important than this interior disposition towards peacefulness, "If you know your brother or sister has something against you or you have something against your brother or sister, go first and be reconciled. Then come and offer your gift." Nothing is more important, not even to come and worship God. If we are truly Christian, we must now reach out in forgiveness and be the first to forgive, the first to try to make reconciliation and peace happen. We can make this resolution in the New Year – peace, beginning with our own internal peacefulness, extending to our family members and our neighbors, and radiating into the world around us. Let us pray for a Peace Filled New Year! Blessings, Fr. Timothy
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