are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of
The gospel of peace has been
compromised and often crushed in the world
of violence. That gospel -- largely silenced
in our society of self-absorption and our culture of conflict --
calls us to reconciliation not retaliation, to compassion not indifference,
to forgiveness not vengeance, driven by love
We have grown so accustomed
to violence that it barely shocks us. Nearly two
hundred lives lost in a human stampede in India; the bodies of
two young girls found in a freezer in
Maryland; more bombs in Afghanistan and Iraq; drive-by
shootings in Los Angeles; and human trafficking in Europe. We
catch the headlines, accept it as inevitable in our
fallen world, and return to our relatively safe
Yet violence governs our own
lives, too. Home after home is racked with
violence and intimidation of a different kind. Slammed
doors, hostile voices, physical contact, and ridicule
(yes, ridicule is a form of violence) tear apart
marriages and families.
And we recipients of the gospel of
peace, see little problem.
To paraphrase Dorothy Day, "The Gospel
asks us to take up our cross. With violence we lay the
cross on others."
We marvel at military
technology that targets and kills by remote control,
rather than grieve the loss of life. We approve
government spending to produce sophisticated weaponry that can obliterate villages
and cities. We justify aggression as a necessary evil to
protect ourselves, our families, and our
All the while, the gospel of peace
In that definitive moment when Peter
drew his sword to protect Jesus from the hostile
crowd in Gethsemane, Jesus would not have it. If ever
the disciples could justify violence, surely it was then
as they braced themselves to defend the Son of God. But
the Son of God rebukes Peter: "Put down your sword!"
It's time for the sons of God to
repeat such a rebuke to ourselves, to each other, and to
a world spiraling towards destruction. May we begin with
our own inner depths of violence and find ways to disarm
our own hearts first.
The gospel of peace has never needed
greater urgency or suffered greater neglect.
In HOPE --