During the second week of Advent we can focus on peace. In the Greek language, peace is eirene probably from a primary verb eiro which means to join; in Hebrew it is shalom, signifying wholeness. This idea of joining that which is not joined; and making whole that which is not whole, brings us closer to understanding the true meaning of peace.
We find the word peace used many times in sacred writing and it is certainly one of the most frequently used words in our modern vocabulary. Isaiah referred to Christ, whose birth we celebrate at Christmas, as “the Prince of Peace” Is 9:6. Another famous quote at this time of the year is, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” Lk 2:14 Without understanding the true nature of peace these texts can be misleading.
A more accurate translation of Luke’s words is, ‘Glory through the highest God, and on earth peace among men of good will.” Now we begin see that peace is not a gift, nor a right. Indeed, Jesus said, “Do not think that I have come to bring peace on earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword”. Mt 10:34
It becomes clear that this most prized state of peace is one of human achievement. There is an intricate relationship between peace and the power of our will. We begin to see the truth of this when we consider that there are different kinds of peace. In John 14 we find these words, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you.” The word ‘leave’ here means ‘to send away’ showing us two kinds of peace; one that is sent away and one that is given differently.
This also tells us that we will never experience the new peace unless we divest ourselves of the old peace. It is as if we have to be shattered and then make ourselves whole by joining the pieces back together. This can only be achieved through the human will; not the will we are used to, but the higher will awakened by the I Am. The old will is pushy and selfish, motivated by self-survival. The new will is gentle, approachable, and always applied inwardly rather than directed towards others. The use of this new will was made possible for the first time through the birth of Jesus which we celebrate every year at Christmas.