Today’s Gospel, the beginning of Mark, quotes from the Book of the Prophet Isaiah, a book generally accepted as around 800 years old by the time Christ was born. Add to this another 70 years, the time Mark was written, and you have almost 900 years between the two texts.
It is amazing how this promise of God took 900 years to fulfill. It is even astonishing how God’s people held on to this promise for almost a millennium. Such is the trust God’s people have in his promise.
This also reveals to us the “great secret” of our faith: God has a plan and there are no accidents in God’s plan. In his time, everything falls into place and he fulfills his promise far greater than our deepest hopes and greatest dreams.
Reliability makes us trust which, in turn, engenders peace. But a common mistake we make is when we reduce reliability to predictability. Predictability does not always result in trust that brings peace. Predictability can make us more controlling and anxious when we fail to control.
Trust in God requires a humble surrender. We entrust ourselves to God because he is reliable, but ultimately we can entrust our self to God totally because he loves us and we know this love has a plan for us.
Trust, surrender, and peace seem to define the process of grace that makes us love. These initial stages of loving require our knowing or seeing the other person before trust and surrender.
Fr. Benny Calpotura, S.J. calls this the vulnerability that comes with loving. Hannah Hurnard (Hinds’ Feet on High Places) described this as giving the one you love the power to hurt you in a way no one else can.
This is the trust and surrender of the Cross where Christ makes himself vulnerable not just to the will of his Father, but to humanity’s rejection and cruelty.
Saint Teresa of Calcutta said that there can be no authentic love without personal pain and sacrifice. Hurnard wrote that love and pain go together for a time, until love transforms pain.
The more we realize it’s not about the pain, but the freedom that comes with this trust and surrender, the vulnerability that gives rise to the freedom to love.
St. Paul captured it well: “We know that all things work for good for those who love God.” (Romans 8:28). In the midst of whatever situation, our trust and hope in God’s love gives us peace.
There is an art piece depicting the crucified Christ with a crown of thorns but with his face serene. A close friend remarked that Christ endured the suffering, and died knowing it brought him peace, that he did what his Father wanted him to do.
Trusting in God’s promise, perseverance and endurance through time and trials bring us the peace of the Cross and the Resurrection—the peace promised in the ancient prophecies and first proclaimed in the hymn of the angels in the first Christmas night, “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to men and women of good will.”
There is another image of Christ, as an infant lying on a Cross, peacefully asleep with three nails beside him. This summarizes our reflections. From the beginning God has a plan for us and with freedom we can say “yes” or “no,” bearing in mind that “all things work for the good of all who love God.”
The Infant Jesus lies asleep in peace as he, the Word—the promise—made flesh, enters our world. The Crucified Christ hangs on the cross in peace. His trust and hope in, and his surrender to his Father’s reliable plan is definitively rewarded.
He is the promise, the plan and the fulfillment, the pattern and flow of grace that is ours for the taking. This is our gift of peace from the Prince of Peace.–CONTRIBUTED