25th Sunday – Blessed are the Peacemakers

Jas 3:16-4:3

One of the most beautiful Christian words is “Peacemaker.” Blessed are the peacemakers, says Jesus, and St James talks about being a peacemaker in today’s second reading. How do I become a peacemaker?Well, according to St James, there’s two things that are opposed to it: “Jealousy and ambition.” Both of these take away our peace. Jealousy and ambition are two sides of the same coin. When you’re jealous you want something the other person has. When you’re ambitious (in a sinful way), you want to have something the others can’t have. “Where do these wars and battles between yourselves first start? Isn’t it precisely in the desires fighting inside your own selves? You want something and you haven’t got it; so you are prepared to kill.” In other words, you can’t be a peacemaker for others without being making peace in your own heart. Peacemaking begins at home.But how do I find that peace? St James says it’s the “wisdom that comes down from above” that “makes for peace”. The gift of wisdom, one of the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit. What does this gift teach us? To see ourselves as children of God. “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.” Yes: the cure for jealousy and ambition is choosing to see ourselves as children of God. Seeing ourselves as a child cures sinful ambition: because the child is little in the eyes of others. When the disciples were arguing about who was the greatest, Jesus placed a child in front of them. The child has nothing to prove. He’s happy just being himself. That’s why he’s at peace. Moreover, in Greek the word “child” can also mean “servant.” Serving is the opposite of ambition, and it’s normal and right for a child to serve (like in chores around the home).

The child has a debt of existence towards his parents, and should serve as best he can to repay. Mother Teresa said, “The fruit of love is service and the fruit of service is peace.” Seeing ourselves as children of God means learning to serve, and that brings peace.Seeing ourselves as children of God cures jealousy too. When we experience God’s love we know that we are uniquely and unconditionally loved. We realise that being jealous of someone else’s talents or qualities would mean trying to tell God he is wrong to love us as we are. Even other people’s virtue. If we’ve had a tough childhood, not such a good upbringing, it’s much harder to be virtuous, and we can envy those who have had wise and loving parents. Humanly speaking, that kind of groundwork is crucial; if you didn’t get it, you can never catch up. Peace comes though for us as Christians when we see ourselves as children. It isn’t too late, we are still children, God’s children. God’s love and forgiveness makes everything new. By his Holy Spirit we can still become good people; our vices don’t determine us. When we manifest the hope that comes from believing in God’s forgiveness, we become radiant with the peace that is a fruit of the Holy Spirit. And that makes faith attractive for others too: it’s not too late for them. They too can find the unconditional parental love that is at the principle of virtuous action. Unconditional love: so that even if we struggle and fail in our pursuit of virtue, God’s love is still there, like a rock.Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.

-Br Philip-Thomas CSJ

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