By Sr Rose Anne Engel
Blessed are the Peacemakers for they shall be called the children of God. (7th Beatitude)
We often hear the expression: Peace starts with you. Many years ago there was a popular song: All I am asking is give peace a chance.(Listen on You Tube). At that time too there were demonstrations and marches especially at University Campuses. I remember being at the University of Ottawa when a crowd marched on Parliament Hill singing this phrase over and over and over. Every kind of person was in the crowd of about 4000 including young children, grandparents and Religious. All, during that walk, were peaceful and quiet except for the song. No speeches, no placards, no confrontations.
Peacemakers are creators not destroyers. Peacemakers take conflict, chaos and sadness and turn it into inner tranquillity. They do this in myriads of ways, from walking and singing, to writing and giving speeches, to gathering people for prayer. Peacemakers will not and cannot discriminate between race, colour and religion. Each is accepted according to her personal dignity.
The peace-loving person simply operates from differing premises from those who want to out do, out smart, out buy and out witthe other. An 83-year-old women and holocaust survivor once spoke to a B. Ed. Class I was teaching. She said. “Never ever, ever use the word hate for it will lead to violence and to war!” Peacemakers bear within them a ‘heart condition’- one which is serene and tranquil. The peacemaker will not handle conflict with fear, anger and violence. But rather will try to move immediately toward eventual reconciliation.
How do you become a peace filled person, a peacemaker? Well, living the Beatitudes will certainly lead to peace.
Prayer also shows us our limitations and our responsibilities. It strengthens us through our fears, especially the fear we may be judged negatively, may be persecuted. It strengthens our quality of freedom, joy, self-esteem and quiet.
All of this leads to my next point and that is this: our own inner peace leads us to be peacemakers. Jean Vanier says: “Blessed are you because at all times and at every moment you want to be an instrument of peace, seeking unity, understanding, and reconciliation above all things.” (J.V. Book -Be Not Afraid)
Peacemakers are reconcilers. They stress unity, trust. They negotiate, they love. They promote understanding. Peacemakers are the personification of the peace prayer of St. Francis. Peace deals with conflict in creative ways, not causing an angry tone of voice, causing more discord but with increased harmony with all who are at odds. This beatitude is not calling us to a passive acceptance of things either but to the active facing of truth, even when the way to peace is through struggle.
In the end we are encouraged by this beatitude to live simply, to situate ourselves among people who are disadvantaged, be a community of hospitality and share with one another in faith. with kindness important issues and concerns. Remember authors have told us: When you speak negatively joking abut her/him you are simply revealing that in yourself! Christian peace is the fruit of justice. We know the saying if you want peace work for justice. The vision for what that should look like is found in Isaiah (2:4). “The Lord will judge between the nations and impose terms on many peoples. They shall beat their swords into ploughshares and their spears into pruning hooks; One nation shall not raise the sword against another, nor shall they train for war again”. Other peace quotes: Ps 72: 2-4; 12-14; Cor. 5:14-18; Ps 23; Jn 14: 27; 20: 19, 20, 26; Matt. 11:28-30; Eph. 2: 14-18.
Would that were the commission of nations at senseless war!
But here at our home, our community we can be a peacemaker. When people encounter you do they leave you in peace. “Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me.” (Glory and Praise Hymn Book)
PRAYER ATTRIBUTED TO ST FRANCIS
Lord, make us instruments of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let us sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is discord, union;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy.
Grant that we may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.