May Christmas bring us closer to peace Print
Seeing with Jesus' Eyes
Thursday, Dec. 22, 2016 -- 12:00 AM

Jim Mahoney, a Marine sergeant, was married shortly before going overseas in World War II. He and his wife never had the chance to celebrate Christmas together.

He returned from the Pacific in December of 1945, hoping and praying that he would make it home in time to be with his wife for Christmas so he could surprise her with a special Christmas gift.

A special gift

He flew into New York City on Christmas Eve after the stores were closed. As he rode in a cab, he noticed a drugstore that was still open. He stopped the cab and made a purchase.

When he arrived home, and as his lovely wife opened the door, she gasped. Her husband was wrapped like a gift package, with a big red ribbon, a bow across his chest, and a card which read, "To Mary from Jimmy with all my love!"

They laughed, cried, and fell into each other's arms because they both knew that he had given her the gift she had wanted most -- himself.

The gift of Jesus

In John 3:16 it says, "God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life."

God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him.

God the Father gave us the gift of Jesus to teach us to love each other and live together in peace; yet during the Christmas season, the message of peace on earth is often mocked by dissonant notes of violence and war.

Living as followers of Christ

Pablo Casals, the great musician and crusader for peace, wrote, "We live in an age in which we have made marvelous advances. Yet, like barbarians, we continue to arm against our neighbors and they arm against us. This must stop if humanity is to survive. We must become accustomed to the fact that we are human beings and there is a brotherhood among us."

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin wrote,"Some day, after we master the winds, waves, tides, and gravity, we shall harness for God the energies of love. Then for the second time in history, we will have discovered fire."

We Catholics believe that by following Jesus faithfully, we can be happier in this world and help to make it a better place as countless Christians and people of good will have done. We also believe Christ offers us eternal life in the next world.

Christ has done his part. Now we must do our part by listening to his message of peace and by offering family, friends, and the needy the gift of our presence as Sergeant Mahoney, Mother Teresa, and countless other persons of good will have done!

When Christmas season is over, may we continue to be peacemakers in our home, neighborhood, church, country, and world. Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with you and me.

Fr. Donald Lange is a pastor emeritus in the Diocese of Madison.