Reflection: Christmas Day

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Bible passage

In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria.


Luke tells the Christmas story and gives us names and places. We hear about the Emperor Augustus, Quirinius and Joseph.  We glimpse Nazareth and Bethlehem. Luke is making sure that we know that salvation happens here and it has a place and in a time.  It happened then; it happens now. He is also telling a story in which we must find our place. We should stop and think about Augustus.  His name was actually Octavian, but he preferred Augustus which means ‘divine’. He was a man of big ideas. 
One of his ideas was peace. Augustus thought of himself as a prince of peace. There was an altar in Rome built to celebrate peace, the Ara Pacis. They even named peace after him, the Pax Augusta.  Unfortunately, this was the kind of peace you achieve by having more soldiers than anyone else. This was not a peace in which life could flourish. Luke knows that. Luke wants us to pause when we hear the angels sing "Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace!" This is not the Pax Augusta. This is God’s peace, real peace.   
This Christmas, in a world that longs for peace, I pray that you too may know God’s peace. 


To you, Creator, I pray 
Hear my voice, for it is the voice of the victims of all wars and violence among individuals and nations. 
Hear my voice, for I speak for the multitudes in every country and in every period of history who do not want war and are ready to walk the road of peace. 
Hear my voice and grant insight and strength so that we may always respond to hatred with love, to injustice with total dedication to justice, to need with the sharing of self, to war with peace. 
O God, hear my voice and grant unto the world Your everlasting peace.  
(Pope John Paul II)