I don’t know who did the counting, but it has been observed that in the more than 4,000 years of recorded history, only 300 or 400 hundred of those years have been without a major war. This has caused some quipster to say, “Peace is merely that brief, glorious moment in history when everyone stops to reload their weapons.”
At this very moment, wars are raging in various places around the world. Our own nation is torn by strife and conflict. And sometimes that strife and conflict comes very close to us. It can be found in our communities, our families, and even in our churches.
I don’t know about you, but I am weary of all the fighting. Oh, I know that sometimes it is necessary, and I certainly would not advocate peace at any price. But, I do long for peace.
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God” (Matt. 5:9). I believe that’s what the world needs now--peacemakers. We have too many who stir the pot and fan the flames of discord.
When Jesus gave this beatitude, He was asking people to be active and not passive. He did not say, “Blessed are those who have a peaceful disposition.” He did not say, “Blessed are those who desire peace.” And, He did not say, “Blessed are those who do everything they can to avoid trouble.”
He did say (in essence), “Take the initiative, be active, do what you can to make peace.” This is in keeping with the words of the Psalmist, “Depart from evil, and do good, seek peace and pursue it” (Psa. 34:14).
I am not suggesting that we try to reconcile all the warring factions in our world. We have neither the skills or opportunity to do that. I am suggesting, however, that we do everything we can to make our little corner of the world more peaceful.
We must learn to live and speak in a way that will contribute to peace. We cannot control what others say, but we can control what we say--and how we say it. Our words can defuse or ignite a situation. They can calm or agitate those about us.
Peacemakers build bridges; they do not tear them down. Peacemakers seek to restore relationships; they do not try to destroy them. Peacemakers exert a calming influence on potentially explosive situations; they do not throw more fuel on the fire. Peacemakers are kind and considerate in all they do; they do not nurse grudges and hold animosity in their hearts.
The following prayer is usually attributed to Francis of Assisi, and it is my prayer today.
Lord, make me an instrument of your 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,
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.