Posted by: Veroni Kruger | December 18, 2020

Peace and Goodwill

The shepherds taking care of their flocks near Bethlehem heard this amazing song being sung by many angels:  “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favour rests.”  (Luke 2.14)

Following a popular translation, the last sentence became “… on earth peace, goodwill toward all men.”

Where is the peace, and where the goodwill?  I am not going to write about all the opposites of peace and goodwill that we see around us.  Rather, how we can have peace and goodwill.

At a time when Jesus was approaching the terrible experience of being crucified He comforted his disciples with these words:  “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you.  I do not give to you as the world gives.  Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”  (John 14.27)

In the same way that he spoke of His joy hours before He was taken prisoner, He also spoke of his peace.  This proves that He experienced both joy and peace at a time when most people would deny even the possibility of such positive emotions.  It also assures you and me that we can also have these positive emotions, and that having them does not depend on circumstances.  At a time when we are inclined to ask “Where is the peace, and where the goodwill?”, it is good to be reminded that it is possible to have joy and peace even when circumstances seem to be adverse.

As we celebrate the birth of the Saviour of the world, He is saying to us also:  “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you…Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”  This is the most important statement about peace:  That we receive it through Jesus.  

Also important is the fact that our peace comes without our deserving it.  Jesus says “I do not give to you as the world gives.” So called peace in the world is transactional.  If we behave in a certain manner, or adopt a certain attitude, or obtain possessions, we are supposed to have peace.   The peace Jesus gives is a free gift of the grace of God.  Free for us, but not for Him.  It cost Him becoming a human being – what we are celebrating right now – and sacrificing his life for us.          

Jesus had peace because He knew the Father was with Him.  Even as he spoke about the disciples’ forsaking Him, He was confident of the Father’s presence with Him.  “A time is coming and in fact has come when you will be scattered, each to his own home.  You will leave me all alone.  Yet I am not alone, for my Father is with me.” (John 16.32).  We have that same assurance from the Word of God.  He says “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” (Hebrews 13.5)

 All of this should give us adequate reason to accept the peace that Jesus gives.  We should train our minds to think according to the promise.  Jesus says “Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”  It may sound illogical.  In fact, it is.  Paul calls it the “peace which transcends all understanding” adding that it will guard our hearts and our minds (Philippians 4.7).

I pray you will have this peace that comes from God, and that it will enable you to not allow your heart to be troubled.  Furthermore, that we will become instruments through whom God can spread the peace that the angels announced to the shepherds.  

St. Francis prayed as follows:

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace,
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
Where there is sadness, joy;

O Divine Master,
Grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled as to console;
To be understood as to understand;
To be loved as to love.

For it is in giving that we receive;
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.


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