“Glory to God in the highest and peace
on earth to His people of good will!
Fr. Paul P. Pang O.F.M.
Every year we look forward to the arrival of Christmas. It is simply the most joyous season of the year. Not only do we Christians, especially we Catholics, have an Advent season to prepare us for the birth of our Saviour. But even the world at large prepare itself for the coming of this season in anticipation, even if for very different motivations. But nobody can really be indifferent when Christmas is approaching.
If we put so much weight on our own birthdays, it is more than natural that we put the utmost importance on the birthday of our Saviour. While we cannot plan our birthdays, Jesus the Son of God can not only plan, but even will His own birth in order to save us, to show His infinite love for us. That is what we celebrate in His birthday.
We need to reflect on the three elements of the angelic hymn on Christmas night: “Glory to God in the highest and peace on earth to His people of good will!” First of all, the birth of the Divine Son is the fulfillment of the glory to the Most Holy Trinity. When we say “heaven and earth are filled with your glory” during Mass, we proclaim God’s glory in the universe and as Christ is the “First Born of all creation”( Col. 2:9-10), God is therefore glorified in His birth. But we also say in one of the common prefaces, our praise does not add to God’s glory. Christ’s birth is the crowning of the glory of God.
Then the angels sing: “Peace on earth to His people of good will”. From the Bible we learn that peace, peace between God and man and peace among men has been disturbed through the un-cooperation of our proto-parents. Their fall has become the source of all our troubles, including the lack of peace. Ever since the first murder, fratricide in fact, in Adam’s family, this violence has never stopped in our human family. Therefore the angels sing with a condition: peace on earth to His people of good will. We will have peace only when we have good will. If we have good will, we are children of God. However, no matter how much God desires good will, He cannot impose it on us. He sent His Son to show us how important this good will is and the same Son spent His entire earthly life teaching us just that: to have this good will.
In our everyday life we, as free people, we exercise our rights to do whatever we please, including showing or deceiving our good will. We could sometimes pretend to be of good will, but deep down in our hearts we know we are deceiving people. Yes, in our encounter with others, we can be kind or cruel as we choose. But God does not stand idly by. He helps us to be kind through His grace. In the history of the Church, through the lives of the saints, we have witnessed innumerable such acts of good will because they follow the teachings of the Sermon on the Mount: Blessed are the peace-makers because they shall be called the children of God. When we have genuine love, we also have good will. Let this Christmas be a constant reminder to good will. We need to live a transparent life. Let the Christmas spirit guide us and inspire us. Let the love of the Incarnate Son of God enlighten us and strengthen us. Let the good will transform us and motivate us. Amen!