Daily Meditations

The Twenty-First Day of Christmas Advent. The Prince of Peace.

WILL IT REALLY HAPPEN? Will it really happen that one day the wolf will lie down with the lamb, and the leopard with the baby goat, and the lion with the calf, and “a little child shall lead them”? Such, says the prophet Isaiah, is the promise of the Peaceable Kingdom. In our unpeaceable world, we long for the fulfillment of the promise.

Born into a world of raging conflicts, the little child who leads us is called the Prince of Peace. Above the fields of Bethlehem, the angels sang at his birth, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom he is pleased.” Yet what a strange Prince of Peace is this. “Woe to those,” he said, “who cry peace, peace when there is no peace.” He also said: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” Peace is not only possible; it is the gift already given. Christ gives us his peace by giving us himself, for he is the Prince of Peace.

For peace in the world we must fervently pray and earnestly work. But do not be troubled or frightened by the wars around you and the wars within you. We are keenly aware of the warfare. The peace that is ours is not a peace of pretending that things are not as they are; nor is it a peace of being blind to conflict. It is the peace of faith. Faith is trust in the Prince of Peace. We neither hold ourselves aloof from the anguish of a conflicted world nor delude ourselves that the resolution of all conflicts is within our power. In the child of Bethlehem, in the powerlessness of a baby, God entered into our conflicts. The powers of darkness and death raged against his intrusion and did their worst, beginning with murderous King Herod, who killed the babies of Bethlehem, and ending with a cruel death on a cross.

The dark and deadly powers still rage because they know they have been defeated by the Prince of Peace—incarnate, crucified, and crowned in glory. By faith in him and the victory that he won, we already live in the Peaceable Kingdom that is to be. Because it has really happened, it will really happen. And Jesus said, “Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” Fear not.

~Adapted from Richard John Neuhaus, “First Tuesday of Advent,” GOD WITH US:  Rediscovering the Meaning of Christmas, edited by Greg Pennoyer & Gregory Wolfe


There is a wonder-full Latin phrase in Christian theology: Finitum capax infiniti—the finite is capable of the infinite. We who are created by God are created finite. Our lives are bounded by space and time; at any one time we can be in only one place or another, and there is a date on the calendar for our birth, and for our death. We are mortal. We are finite. In the child of Mary, our three-dimensional, time-bounded existence is penetrated by the eternal infinite. Finitum capax infiniti means that now, because of Emmanuel, the creation is riddled through and through, is electrically charged with, the presence of God. This baby is in human form the Word of God by whom and for whom all things came to be.

John chapter one: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. . . . All things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” The darkness will not overcome it. Never, never ever.

Giving sight to the blind, turning water into wine, feeding thousands with a few loaves and fish—these and other miracles are aimed at alerting us to the miracle of Emmanuel, God with us. If we believe that that is what happened at Christmas, all difficulties about other miracles in the Gospel accounts are resolved. The Gospel accounts call the miracles of Jesus “signs.” The miracles are signs pointing beyond themselves to Jesus Christ, true God and true man, in whom is revealed the stupendous fact that finitum capax infiniti.

~From Richard John Neuhaus, “First Wednesday of Advent,” GOD WITH US:  Rediscovering the Meaning of Christmas, edited by Greg Pennoyer & Gregory Wolfe