For a child is born to us, A son is given to us; And the government Is upon His shoulder; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6)
And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. (Colossians 3:15)
On this fourth Sunday of Advent we mark the final week of prayer and penance as we wait for the birth of our Savior in the celebration of Christmas! This final candle, the “Angel’s Candle,” symbolizes peace. It reminds us of the message of the angels: “Glory to God in the highest; and on earth peace to men of good will. ” (Luke 2:14)
But how can there be peace at the same time as there is increasing division? Because Christ Himself is the paradox of Peace and Division!
The paradoxes of the Bible are a wonderous, beauteous and astounding revelation of the truth. Paradoxes are God’s higher thinking and are only recognized through revelation. One of the most intriguing paradoxes is what Chesterton calls “the paradoxes in favor of peace.” From one end of scripture we read that Christ is the coming “Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6) and from the other end we read:
Do not assume that I have come to bring peace to the earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn ‘A man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.… (Matthew 10:34)
Christ’s peace is no mere platitude; it is startling! It first takes hold in a person’s spirit, transforming them into Sons of God which puts them in direct conflict with the “sons of perdition”, those who reject Christ and his peace as did Judas. Christ’s peace further manifests, from heart to reality, in his Second Coming with a real kingdom to replace this dark world where crying, mourning and death will be no more. Light has come into the world! (John 3:19)
Recognizing Christian paradox and then elucidating it for his reader was something at which Chesterton excelled!
“The morality of most moralists, ancient and modern, has been one solid and polished cataract of platitudes flowing for ever and ever. That would certainly not be the impression of the imaginary independent outsider studying the New Testament. He would find a number of strange claims; a number of very startling pieces of advice; a number of stunning rebukes; a number of strangely beautiful stories. He would see some very gigantesque figures of speech about the impossibility of threading a needle with a camel or the possibility of throwing a mountain into the sea. He would see a number of very daring simplifications of the difficulties of life; like the advice to shine upon everybody indifferently as does the sunshine or not to worry about the future any more than the birds. He would find on the other hand some passages of almost impenetrable darkness, such as the moral of the parable of the Unjust Steward. He would not find the ordinary platitudes in favour of peace. He would find several paradoxes in favour of peace. He would find several ideals of non-resistance, which taken as they stand would be rather too pacific for any pacifist.”
– G. K. Chesterton, The Riddles of the Gospel, The Everlasting Man, 1925