Editor’s note: DCSC alumni Amanda Saunders celebrates day 12 of Advent season with a beautiful reflection on ‘peace’. 

In May of 1999, I had just finished pre-k at this place called “Tender Loving Care” where I had a teacher named Ms. Rose Mary and she was my absolute favorite. 

This story takes place the following winter. My mom and I were sitting in the living room watching a movie, and the phone rang. I knew something had to be wrong because she looked concerned and left the room.  

When she came back, she told me that Ms. Rose Mary had been driving across a bridge, swerved to avoid hitting a squirrel, hit a patch of black ice, and flipped her car. She had passed away. 

I was instantly in hysterics and began running up the steps to my room, but I heard my mom say “Amanda Rose, wait”. She told me to come back down the steps and to sit on her lap. She said to me, “Amanda, we do not run to sit by ourselves when we are upset or we get bad news. No matter what happens in life–good, bad, happy, sad, or scary–we will always handle it together.” 

Her comfort, her silent presence, her ability to sit with me and not try to fix anything, gave me peace of mind and peace of heart. It reassured me that even in a hard time–even in grief–there is solace in relationship- solace in being heard and seen. 

A consistent message we are told, especially through the Advent season, is that Jesus came to bring peace on Earth. While I believe that is true, I think we can sometimes romanticize what that means. When I hear this message of peace, I have this vision of light that rights every wrong and fixes every wound–magically–all in one motion. 

Jesus came into this world to show us that he walks with us through all of life’s difficulties. That he can be in true relationship with us because he knows what it means to suffer, to grieve, to experience pain and heartache. We see through his ministry that by being present and being in a relationship, He brought peace to those around him. 

I am sure most of us have experienced a moment of peace when someone affirms us, encourages us, is present with us, comforts us. These actions are Jesus bringing peace on Earth. Our relationships with those who are close to us and the stranger on the street, are how Christ manifests his love in the world. 

That’s why my favorite part of the Mass is the Sign of Peace. Don’t get me wrong, I love all parts of the liturgy, but the Sign of Peace is the one moment I get to connect with someone that I not only don’t know but from whom I may be vastly different. I get to look this person in the face, smile, and wish them peace. I think it is so profound that we say “peace be with you.” We are not saying that we hope everything is perfect or that all of their prayers are answered exactly how they want them to be. We’re saying: in the midst of the imperfections of life, I hope you find moments of relationship that bring you peace of mind and peace of heart. 

The responsibility lies with us, with the help of grace, to bring peace on Earth. Creating moments of relationship to spread peace is what we are called to do during Advent.

Reflection: How can you go out of your way to be in relationship with someone to spread peace to those around you?