In the first reading we have the beautiful blessing that God gives to Moses for the people, which includes the gift of “shalom”. The Hebrew word shalom means so much more than “just” peace as we may often think of it.
Shalom carries with it the ideas of happiness, good health, prosperity, friendship, and wellbeing — so very much more than only the absence of violence and war. And surely is not the child who laid in the manger, visited by humble shepherds the very manifestation of this fulness of shalom, the Shalom of God.
In Luke’s nativity scene there are no Magi or royal visitors with kingly gifts; only humble shepherds sent by an angel to see for themselves so that they too might join the heavily hosts and sing glory to God in the highest and shalom to all the peoples of earth!
As we continue to celebrate the wondrous Incarnation and Mary’s incredible YES, and on this World Day of Peace let us pray for God’s gift of “shalom” to fall gently upon the face of the earth; that our swords might be beaten into plowshares and our hatred, fear and distrust of “the other” might, by the grace of God’s Shalom, be turned into something holy so that God’s dream for our world might burst forth.
I pray you all the fullness of the shalom of God in this coming New Year!