Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
When you experience the true nature of God, you will have peace and will share it with the world, then you will be called a child of God.
In the previous beatitude, in our purity, we experienced God. And in this one, when we experience God, we find peace. When I think of peace, I think of a prayer, “The Peace Prayer” or “The Prayer of St. Francis”. Although it is was not written by St. Francis, I believe it carries some weight. It was originally published in French, and this is one of several translations.
Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
Where there is sadness, joy.
O divine Master, grant that I 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;
It is in dying to self that we are born to eternal life
It expresses the idea that peace is not only something we feel, but it is also something we do, and it expresses a desire to become an “instrument of Thy peace”. It describes a series of peacemaking actions as the response to a series of sufferings. The writer is asking God to equip him/her to make whole the brokenness of hatred, injury, doubt, despair, darkness, and sadness. When we see the face of God, or experience God in any way, we will experience God’s peace. And with God’s peace, we are deeply compelled to spread it. The Peace Prayer is a powerful expression of the desire to spread God’s peace.
When we think of peace, any number of ideas come to mind. We may have heard one of our parents yell Give me some peace and quiet! In this case, peace means to be left alone. There is a peace which is the lack of war. There is a peace of mind. This is when we are assured that everything will be ok. Peaceful can mean that an environment is quiet. There is inner peace. This is a state of mind in which strife, anxiety, resentments, worries suffering, are all relinquished so that the mind is able to be quiet and content.
But the word that Jesus uses is shalom. Shalom can be interpreted as “wholeness”, “completeness”, or “healing”. It is not simply the absence of strife. Jesus is referred to as the Prince of Peace, which could mean Prince of Wholeness, Prince of Completeness, or the Prince of Healing. Jesus is a peacemaker.
Another word for peace is reconciliation. In order to be made whole, the parts that have broken from each other must be reconciled to each other. To be made whole. When we experience God we are reconciled to him. Our separateness has been destroyed. The missing piece of us which can only be filled by God has been replaced. This is shalom. Then we feel compassion for those who are not whole, who do not have shalom. We look to bring love, pardon, faith, hope, light, understanding, and consolation to a broken world because peacemaking is about brokenness. It’s true that becoming whole will bring you inner peace, but peace is not only an internal thing. It is a very active thing. It is the process of restoring brokenness into wholeness.
It had been a month since Joseph had walked out on his wife and two kids. He was living in a back room of an old, poorly maintained house. He believed that the differences with his wife were irreconcilable and that his poor behavior had cinched the deal. He was sitting in the den in front of the tv eating a solitary dinner when the owner of the house walked in and handed him an envelope. After she left he opened it.
It was a card from his church with a picture of a recent wildflower altar arrangement. The card’s message was very simple: “We are praying for you.” He knew that it was sent by the Prayer Team because he had been on the prayer team for the last three years. He laid the card down and continued watching a PBS broadcast of the 20th anniversary of Les Miserables. He was pondering the words of the musical and of Hugo, “To love another person is to see the face of God.”
Soon after, he received an inspiration; a loving feeling toward his wife. On an impulse, he sent her a brief text asking how she was doing. She responded amiably. He called her, and as they spoke the beginnings of reconciliation arose. What he didn’t know is that she had called his brother for counsel on whether to fight for her marriage or move on. Joseph’s brother prayed with her and instructed her to pray for a sign. Three minutes before Joseph’s text, his wife had been on her knees praying for a sign. Later, he and all who heard the story would marvel over the miraculous synchronicity of that day.
He returned home very soon after and he began the process of becoming whole with her. Peace had returned to their house. The arguing had ceased. He found that he still loved her very much and that she did as well.
Joseph’s church and his brother were peacemakers. I believe God spoke to him through them and the musical. The beatitudes suggest to me that when we see the face of God, we will become peacemakers. God revealed himself to Joseph through the prayers and the words of Victor Hugo, and he became a peacemaker himself.
When we assist God in the process of restoring a broken world, we will be called children of God. I believe we are all the children of God no matter what we do, but this is something different. Jesus is trying to teach us that when we are doing as God does, we are akin to him in a new way. We have inherited his traits just as a daughter inherits traits from her mother. Being a child of God means doing the work of God.
1. Where is there brokenness in my life? Is there hatred, injury, doubt, despair, darkness, sadness?
2. How can I help restore what is broken into wholeness, shalom? With love, pardon, faith, hope, light, love? Talk about what that would look like.
God of Peace, make me an instrument of your peace in a broken world. Amen.