Monday, November 23, 2009

Blessed are the Peacemakers

Please notice that it does not say, “Blessed are the good negotiators.” Peacemaking is not about negotiating resolution between hostile parties. Peacemaking is about being peace. Now, the ability to negotiate the end of a dispute is a great gift and I do not disparage it, but this is not what this beatitude is talking about. One need not be a Christian at all to be a good negotiator, one who can bring about the cessation of hostilities, and certainly this can be called peace. We might even call it the peace of this world. But Jesus offers us a different kind of peace: “My peace I give to you, not as the world gives” (John 14:27).

The peace that Jesus gives is himself, “He is our peace” (Ephesians 2:14). The peace of Christ passes understanding; it is a reconciliation of our very being with God and neighbor and even with the various forces that we find at work within ourselves. The peace of God is a peace of heart that does not necessarily translate into a cessation of external hostility, as the next verse will tell us. The peace of God is the fruit of righteousness: right relationship with God and neighbor. It is the rest we enter when we cease from our own labor. A person filled with such peace makes peace wherever he or she goes.

Jesus tells his disciples that when they enter a house, their peace will come upon it, if the house is worthy to receive it. Peacemakers bring peace with them. St. James says that peacemakers sow the fruit of righteousness in peace. Their hearts are free from envy, self seeking, partiality or hypocrisy so they are full of a wisdom that is pure, peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, and full of mercy and good fruits: what St. James calls the “wisdom from above” (James 3:13-18). Such a peacemaker is a man or woman with a pure heart, who has seen God and from whom the life of God radiates.

But peacemaking has a cost. Jesus made peace through his flesh, suffering the unjust attacks of those whom he loved. St. Paul in his letter to the Ephesians says that Jesus made peace by breaking down the wall that separates men, “to create in himself one new man” (Eph. 2:15). However, not everyone wants peace. Those who fear put their trust in walls, and those who tear them down become a threat to them. The peaceful man or woman will tear down walls, not necessarily by any external action, but by merely being themselves, full of the life, light and love of God. Consequently, they will be persecuted by those who put their trust in walls.


Anonymous said...

Dear Fr. Michael,

Thank you for stating so clearly and simply, the difference between the peace of Christ and the peace of this world. What jumped out for me was that our rest is when we rest FROM our works. God could rest IN His works because they were good. We can only rest when we rest FROM our works, and turn to find how great and marvelous are the works of God, those works that he is merciful enough to let us share if we believe.


Paul said...

Thanks for this Fr. Michael