"The angels' revelation of the meaning of Jesus is accepted by lowly shepherds and pondered by Mary, who models for believers the necessity of reflecting upon and embodying peace."
|The Holy Family|
by Juan Simón Gutiérrez, 1680
I think Godly peace is most at home in human simplicity and simpleness. Perhaps that's why the angelic host appeared to shepherds, and Jesus was born into a humble family.
There is wisdom and truth to be found in simplicity. It can be discovered in solitudes of cloistered environments. My solitudes have often come from being shut-in my little house during brittle, snowbound Canadian winters. I have advanced multiple sclerosis so I dare not venture out in my wheelchair. Days are short and nights are long. I wait in stillness for Christ. He comes to me with gentle peace.
Our technological world can distract us with the allure and promise of pleasures. Pope Francis wrote that a "technological society has succeeded in multiplying occasions of pleasure yet found it very difficult to engender joy." It is in joy that we encounter God. He is the source and meaning to our lives and humanity.
In matters of simplicity and joy, babies and small children have much to teach their elders. There is a difference between simplicity and simpleness. Simplicity is a way of being while simpleness is a state of being. It embarrasses me to mention this primordial joy or ecstasy but I think that if your reach back to your earliest memory you will discover what it was there. C.S. Lewis said this about the spiritual experiences of small children:
Jesus said, "Truly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven." Notice that Christ said childlike not childish. Just as small children completely trust their parents, we are called completely trust Christ and be obedient to him and His word.
I have spent much of my adult life trying to recapture the joy I knew as a small child. In a strange and unexpected way, chronic and serious neurological disease has blessed me in that regard. By losing my health, my career at an early age, and my sense of self-sufficiency, extraneous things in my life have been stripped away,
|Thomas a Kempis|
Those words resonate with me. I am an old man now. More thirty years of serious neurological disease have turned me inward to seek the reality of the unseen.
For our light affliction, which is but a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things that are seen, but the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal."
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