I believe what we hold in our heart is a microcosm of what we bring into the world. During this fourth Sunday of Advent, we prayerfully light the Angel’s Candle or the Candle of Love in the Catholic tradition. This symbolizes the Christmas message of the angels “Peace on Earth, Good Will Toward Men.” You can find the full message here.
As I light the candle, I acknowledge my less-than-perfect preparation of heart during this season of waiting for the coming of Christ. As much as I try on my own, I fall short. I am reminded that if I were perfect, I would not need a Savior. It is only when I fully appreciate how flawed I am that the miracle of Christmas becomes personal. It is in Christ that my hope resides, which is what I embrace as I light the candles today. Only He can infuse healing light into our broken hearts, broken bodies, and a broken world, bringing peace and joy regardless of our circumstances. I remember to go back to my Advent mantra, prepare me God, you are my center.
Peace comes when we trust God and say, I do not have a clue what I am going to do about this, but I am going to pray about it because you are in control and you know what you are doing. Jesus tells us to put on his yoke and learn from him when we feel burdened. This does not mean that we sit down and abdicate all responsibility we still need to move forward and do our part. The critical thing is to determine what we are responsible for and what part is out of our hands. We must trust God with that we cannot control.
Corrie Ten Boom writes that worry is caring tomorrow’s load with today’s strength – carrying two days at once. It is moving into tomorrow ahead of time. Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow. It empties today of its strength and robs us of our peace. This keeps me from bringing my best self into this world.
Stress, the opposite of peace, is a contributing factor to many physical problems, including diabetes, stomach problems, mental illness, and even tumor development, writes Salleh Mohd Razali in his scientific article on life events, stress, and illness. But the good news is that the amount of stress you have is not what predicts how it will affect you in the long run — it is how you react to the stress in your life that determines how well your body can handle it, say psychologists like Alexandra Crosswell and Dr. Elissa Epel. There are some practical tips on how to develop a healthy mindset during a very unusual holiday season here, such as changing how you think about stress, assessing your daily habits, getting better support and not letting work consume you.
During this Advent, I have been meditating on Mary’s willingness to say yes. She certainly did not have all the facts, but she said yes in an act of faith. We can rely on Mary’s example and pray for her grace daily and invite the Spirit to come and mold our hearts, minds, and words – becoming our personal fiat.
Let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.Focus on His truth, 1 John 3:18
Rejoice, the Prince of Peace is coming bringing a peace that surpasses all our human understanding. Being a peacemaker is a hard job for all of us. We may not always be successful, but we must remain faithful to this work. It is through this peace of heart that we can bring goodwill to our homes, friends, and communities.
I hope you will join me in seeking peace on earth, bringing good will toward all, and being Smitten with Goodness.