Well, it’s been a year, hasn’t it? I mean more in the sense of a weight than a unit of time.
Perhaps that’s why I felt more of a need for Christmas this year. A want, really. A desire for the holiday season to arrive. There’s been so much shameless greed and Scroogian heartlessness this year that by before Halloween I was looking at my Christmas playlist with a note of longing for “peace on Earth, good will toward men.”
This year it’s the latter part of that phrase that’s really stuck with me. “Good will toward men.” There’s been a lot going on that shows many have discarded the phrase. We’re seeing naked, unabashed greed in ways we never have before. A dearth of sympathy. A desert of what once was understanding and mankind reaching across differences to extend one another a helping hand.
People make the decisions they make, and we can’t change that. However, we don’t have to contribute. We don’t have to make our own lives a desert. We can be an oasis, a small, vibrant green lake of kindness, understanding, and love. We can live up to that Christmas spirit, and bring “peace on Earth, good will toward men” in our own space.
“Good will toward men.” It’s not easy, certainly. It involves a willingness to look outside one’s own limited, immediate needs and concerns. It often means giving up one’s own immediate security or comfort to give aide to another. And yet, there’s something gratifying about the very act of doing good, something that heals the soul and soothes the spirit more than simply holding on to what we had ever would have done.
Perhaps then, this is why those who do not practice “good will toward men” are ever increasingly desperate to hold to what they have. They say the peace and understanding that good will grants others, the serenity even in difficult times, and rationalize that they too can achieve that if only they tighten their hold a little harder or gain just a little more. But really, all it does is further dry the desert, making those who have made their lives an oasis of kindness all the more vibrant and green by comparison.
Peace on Earth. Good will toward men. It’s not an exact, direct quote of what is recorded in the book of Luke (that would be “Glory to God in the highest, and on Earth peace, good will toward men”) but it’s certainly a more modern phrasing that many recognize. Words delivered by angelic heralds to shepherds near Bethlehem on the night of the Savior’s birth. An event that would leave its mark on the world for centuries to come, and that had been looked forward to and prophesied for centuries before. Millenia, really, though that doesn’t quite flow off the tongue as well.
Peace on Earth. Good will toward men. Both a proclamation and, in a way, a calling. A request. A duty for those who followed the footsteps of Him whose birth the angels sang. A path that, as He himself often noted, wouldn’t always be easy … but would bring with it great joy and personal peace.
So this Christmas season, as billions gather around the globe to celebrate and commemorate the birth of Jesus Christ, Savior of mankind … Even if you yourself may not happen to be one of them, let those words spoken at the occasion of His birth be with all of us, and carried into the new year.
Peace on Earth, good will toward men.
Merry Christmas, everyone. Peace and good will be with you.