“Glory to God and Peace to Men”

Fr. Daren Zehnle Pg 4Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
As we approach the great celebrations of the Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord this Christmas, we ought to allow the angelic announcement to the shepherds to resonate in our hearts: “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace among men with whom he is pleased” (Luke 2:14)! With the Liturgy of the Church, the angels proclaim these words not only to the shepherds, but to each one of us, as well.
With the growing self-absorption so prevalent in society today – as witnessed, for example, by the increasing popularity of the so-called “selfie” – I cannot help but wonder if we have not misunderstood the angelic greeting. It seems that we often misconstrue the angels’ announcement as “glory to men and peace to God” instead of “glory to God and peace to men.”
In many areas of life, we are encouraged to put ourselves out there, as it were, and to be self-promoters, rather than to let our good deeds and our personal character simply speak for themselves. All of this is just another way, though perhaps a bit subtle, of seeking glory for ourselves. This, of course, is not the goal for a Christian. Saint
Irenaeus of Lyons (d. ca. 202) famously said, “The glory of God is man fully alive.” Less famous are the words he used just afterward: “The glory of man is the vision of God.”
At the same time, we often think to ourselves, “I’m a good person,” and say, “God loves me just the way I am,” as a way to avoid a confrontation with our sinful self. This is a subtle way of telling God he should be at peace with our sins and not too concerned about them. This, of course, is not why the Son of God took our flesh upon himself and was born of the Virgin Mary at Bethlehem!
No, he came among us on that first Christmas to take away our sins and, by doing so, to give us his peace, a peace the world cannot give (cf. John 14:27). In the forgiveness of our sins, God is glorified as the depth of his merciful love is made manifest. It cannot be otherwise. It is this angelic announcement that we experience every Sunday when we, too, proclaim, “Glory to God in the highest!” and hear Jesus say to us in the person of his priest, “The peace of the Lord be with you always!”
In his Bull of Indiction of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy, Misericordiae Vultis (The Face of Mercy), in which we now find ourselves, the Holy Father Pope Francis reminded us that the love of God “has now been made visible and tangible in Jesus’ entire life. His person is nothing but love, a love given gratuitously” (8). As we look upon our Nativity sets, we seek to see and contemplate the mysterious and humble love of God by looking upon the image of the Christ Child who is both the glory of man and the glory of God.
As we approach the manger of Bethlehem to look upon the Infant King, may we draw from the example of his humility to seek the glory of God above all things so that we might know his peace in the depths of our hearts. Only in this way can we bring the joyful message of the angels to those we meet each day.
Merry Christmas!
Reverend Daren J. Zehnle, K.H.S., WCU National Spiritual Advisor