by Sister Sally Ann Brickner
Many times in our lives powerful emotions of anger and resentment lodge in our minds and hearts evoking disquiet and a lack of peace. Sometimes months or years elapse before we are able to respond to God’s grace to overcome rifts with family, friends or Sisters in Community. Why is peacemaking so difficult?
In the Gospel reading for Sept. 21, the International Day of Peace, we hear Jesus invite a despicable tax collector, Matthew, to follow Him, and Matthew immediately responds to the call. He and Jesus’ other followers learn from their Master what discipleship entails. Jesus makes costly discipleship clear in the Beatitudes that begin His Sermon on the Mount, the seventh of which is “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God” (Matt. 5:9). This Beatitude calls us to be actively engaged in the art of peacemaking.
We must keep our eyes fixed on Jesus to fully plumb the depths of “shalom,” which means peace in Hebrew. Repeatedly, Jesus foretold His manner of suffering and death, as we hear in Mark’s Gospel for this Sunday. His message for the disciples and for us: the way of peacemaking is the way of the Cross. Great peacemakers like Nelson Mandela, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and most especially Jesus Christ accepted the cross, taking suffering upon themselves rather than inflicting it on others.
In the second reading, St. James writes about the absence of shalom: “Where do the wars and where do the conflicts among you come from? Is it not from your passions that make war within your members?” To counter our passions, St. James urges us to open ourselves to the gift of “wisdom from above which is first of all pure, then peaceable, gentle, compliant, full of mercy, without inconstancy or insincerity. The fruit of righteousness is sown in peace for those who cultivate peace.” As followers of Jesus we must embrace the folly of the cross which proves to be the source of wisdom for those who would be peacemakers.
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I appreciate your beautifully written reflection, Sister. -- Blessings, Father Bill Jacobs
Dear Sisters: I appreciate so much Sr. Sally’s reflection on peacemaking and “folly” of the Cross. Attaching our suffering to the redemption of Jesus on the Cross can be a powerful means for me to “let go” of strife, anger, hurt which brings me to the wisdom of Jesus, and true peace of heart. I read this weekly as I ‘m receiving chemotherapy. Your reflections gives me the pause that “refreshes “my soul. Thank you, Sisters! -- Sr. Anne Dorice DeFebbo, osf
Thank you for the beautiful reflections on peace making. It gave me something to think about in my life. -- Irene
Yes, and as the first reading describes, the spirit of peace enables us to see the truth of: "one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all." (Eph.4:1-7) And vice-versa: the vision of One-ness, which is the gift of Holy Spirit, enables us to be formed into peace-makers.
Interestingly - and importantly - Sunday's gospel ends with Jesus affirming the 'littleness' of children, once again. "Taking a child, he placed it in their midst, and putting his arms around it, he said to them, 'Whoever receives one child such as this in my name, receives me; and whoever receives me, receives not me but the One who sent me.'” (Mk.9:36-37)
In these Times when indifference and callousness toward the suffering of others is bearing down upon us, my 'power' and 'strength' to speak up and act for conversion, is largely motivated by knowing all 'little ones,' who have no voice or power in this world, are not only JESUS-in-disguise, as Mother Teresa was fond of saying, but they are also our 'hidden God,' wanting to be revealed to us anew. -- Linda