Saturday, December 25, 2010

Peace on Earth (to Men of Good Will)

Hail the newborn Prince of Peace!

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government will be upon his shoulder, and his name will be called "Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." (Is 9:6)

I recently read Werner Heisenberg's Gifford Lectures (1955-56), on which I'll post later. In the meantime, I thought one particular passage was particularly appropriate to this feast. Here, Heisenberg is talking about the way scientists can advance peace in the world, and in particular how they are often asked to endorse peace resolutions:

Such [solemn] resolutions [in favor of world peace] may seem a welcome proof of goodwill; but anyone who speaks in favor of peace without stating precisely the conditions of this peace must at once be suspected of speaking only about that kind of peace in which he and his group thrive best—which of course would be completely worthless. Any honest declaration for peace must be an enumeration of the sacrifices one is prepared to make for its preservation.

Sacrifice. Peace needs sacrifice. Already in the Nativity we see the sacrifice of the Prince of Peace adumbrated: in the slaughter of the Innocents, in his Circumcision. In traditional icons, the bindings swaddling the Infant foreshadow the binding of the entombed Crucified.

For in him all the fulness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. (Col 1:19-20)

Our redemption begins with the Incarnation, made manifest in our Lord's birth.

Merry Christmas!

Werner Heisenberg, Physics and Philosophy: The Revolution in Modern Science (New York: Harper & Row Publishers, 1958), 192-3.