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Peacemakers: The Seventh Beatitude

September 1, AD2017

comfort, nurse, illness,

A peacemaker can make enemies friends.

Peacemaking and Friendship

Friendship is at the root of everything good. Once God creates a person like you or me, that person is made to live in a state of friendship. And because he is made to, he ought to live up to his calling.

But friendship with whom? I think the answer is with everyone and with everything: with God, with himself, with other persons, and even with the natural world.

Friendship is a way to understand what original holiness and original justice meant. Original holiness meant friendship with God. Original justice meant friendship with created persons and things.

This friendship is what was lost in the original sin. Consequently, man is now alienated from God, conflicted within himself, suspicious of other persons, and wary of creation due its many physical dangers. When these wounds bear bitter fruit in actual sin, the friendship is wounded even more. Still these friendships are desired and possible.

War-making

Because of the effects of original sin, rather than friendship prevailing on earth, there is enmity, the condition of being enemies. There are many ready to make war, not to be a peacemaker.

Christ has already put an end to man and God being at odds through the redemption He worked. However, this peace has to be learned and applied over the course of a person’s lifetime. This learning has to be repeated with every new person in every new generation. In God’s way of doing things, each person must undergo a process by which he becomes less and less an enemy and more and more a friend to everyone and everything, except, of course, to sin and evil.

Peacemaking Begins with Christ

Thus, Christ introduces to the world the seventh beatitude:

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.

Christ promises that those who reconcile persons are sons of God. Full peace comes about when the parties are not just not enemies but friends. The peacemaker is not just a mediator between two parties at odds. The peacemaker can also be a person who might presently be in enmity with another person.

I remember helping with a Pre-Cana marriage preparation course during which we did an exercise on the value and necessity of forgiveness. One woman who was about thirty said tearfully to those who attended, “I guess that means I have to forgive my father.” I don’t know the details of what her father had done, but this adult daughter’s forgiveness for something that probably occurred decades before could be a first step toward her being at peace with her father’s offense and for creating peace between father and daughter. If she did take those steps, she should be called a peacemaker and so a “daughter of God.”

Christ is THE Peacemaker

Like the other beatitudes, blessed are the peacemakers is a portrait of Jesus Christ. The Son of God brought peace, reconciling man to God and to one another. Christ wished His Apostles peace at the Last Supper: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you” (Jn 14:27). The very first thing Christ said to His Apostles when He rose from the dead was, “Peace be with you” (Jn 20:21). This means the war between everyone and everything is finished. We just don’t always know it and so don’t start out our lives as peacemakers.

Becoming a Peacemaker

How do we foster peace within our own hearts? Two ways are mental prayer, by which we become friends with God, and the Sacrament of Reconciliation, in which our sins are forgiven and we are fully reconciled with Christ and His Church.

Don’t we then want to bring Christ’s peace to others? Peacemaking might begin with a humble but strong heart that is shared with others. If we bring others to Christ, we act as another Christ and become a true son of God.

To be a peacemaker to others entails working to settle quarrels and end discord. Anyone of us can become a quarrel-starter but with our grace-begun-and-assisted efforts, we can become a quarrel-ender or peacemaker.

Even more than to stop being a thorn in the side of others, to be a peacemaker means being a witness to the truth of Jesus Christ. The peacemaker thus follows the Master, humbly loving and serving others as He did.

Peacemakers Fulfill the Fifth Commandment

“Thou shalt not kill” begins by saying it is wrong to take another person out of this world without a just reason. Christ perfected the no-killing commandment by extending it to mean avoiding anything that says to another in any way, “I wish you did not exist.” And then it means we are to say, “I want you to exist; it is good you exist.”[1] That is what friends say.

False Peacemaking

Peace is an absence of conflict because the two parties are in a state of friendship. But what happens when what is right causes the conflict? The peacemaker does not seek to resolve conflict by compromising his beliefs but instead by declaring the truth of Christ in word and deed.

If one person is doing what is wrong, the peacemaker may have to stir up conflict by correcting the other. This is why Cicero said that only good men can be friends.[2] Only a good man corrects the other and only a good man welcomes that correction. As Proverbs puts it (27:5-6), “Better is open rebuke than hidden love. Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy.”

This is not to say that a fault or evil cannot be overlooked for a time or tolerated even for a long time. God does this with us in His patience. Prudent nations do this with each other to avoid even greater evils. With our friends and potential friends, prudence must be our guide.

[1] Josef Pieper, “On Love,” in Faith, Hope, Love, trans. Richard and Clara Winston (Chicago: Franciscan Herald Press, 1974).

[2] Cicero, “Laelius de Amicitia” in De Senectute, De Amicitia, De Divinatione, trans. William Armistead Falconer (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1964).

Photography: See our Photographers page.

About the Author:

Kevin lives with his wife and seven children in Springfield, IL. He is currently doing freelance curriculum and research projects and teaching. In his free time he writes screenplays, TV pilots, novels, and non-fiction books and articles. His homiletic lectionary-based blog is Doctrinal Homily Outlines. He is also pursing a MA in Theology at Holy Apostles College and Seminary via distance learning.

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  • Do we get God’s peace in our hearts through mental power; or do we get it through humility toward God, which is a surrender of our own mental power towards Christ?