It was interesting that the same week that the Trump Administration was pushing for a military parade for our country, Fr. Richard Rohr was giving his daily reflections on Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount where Jesus says, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be call Children of God.” (Matt. 5:9) What a contrast! Maybe true Christians should advocate for a Peace parade.
The meditation starts with an address by General Omar Bradley on an Armistice Day in Boston, Nov. 10, 1948. “We have grasped the mystery of the atom and rejected the Sermon on the Mount. . . . Ours is a world of nuclear giants and ethical infants. We know more about war than we know about peace, more about killing than we know about living.” How true even today!
The meditation goes on to say, “In Jesus’ teaching and in his life, we see modeled nonviolent, peaceful action. He encourages us to ‘turn the other cheek’ and not return vengeance with vengeance. There is no way to peace other than through peacemaking itself. But many think we can achieve peace through violence. We say, ‘We will stop killing by killing.’ Sadly, that is the way we think, and it is in opposition to all great religious teachers.”
The meditation continues, “Jesus next warns us that we will be hated from all sides. When you’re working outside the system, when you work for peace, they will not admire you inside the system. In fact, you will look dangerous, subversive, and unpatriotic. One thing you cannot call Jesus was a patriot. He was serving a far bigger realm.”
“If you are truly a peacemaker, you have to be nonviolent and have to be consistently pro-life-from womb to tomb. One of the most distressing qualities of many Christians today is that they retain the right to decide when, where, and with whom they will be pro-life peacemakers. If the other can be determined to be wrong, guilty, unworthy, or sinful, the death penalty is somehow supposed to serve justice. That entirely misses the ethical point Jesus makes: We are never the sole arbiters of life or death, because life is created by God and carries the divine image. It is a spiritual seeing, far beyond any ideology of left or right.”
“Do we have any idea of all the slavery and oppression, all the killing, the torture, all the millions of people who have existed around the edges of every empire so those at the center of the empire could say they had peace? Every time we build a pyramid, certain people at the top will have their peace. Yet there will be bloody bodies upon which they build their security. Those at the top are usually blind to the price of their false peace.”
How can we be peacemakers? It begins by being at peace ourselves, by connecting with the source of peace within. It means standing up in a nonviolent resistance to systems of injustice. It involves learning the skills of nonviolent communication and conflict resolution.
As peacemakers, we are nonviolent to ourselves, nonviolent to all others, all creatures, and all creation, and we work publicly for a new world of nonviolence. We are called to speak out against every aspect of violence, poverty, war, racism, police brutality, gun violence, nuclear weapons, and environmental destruction, and simultaneously call for a new culture of peace.
Canadian Christian theologian, Jean Vanier, in his book, Finding Peace, says, “Peace is the fruit of love, a love that is also justice. But to grow in love requires work – hard work. And it can bring pain because it implies loss – loss of the certitudes, comforts, and hurts that shelter and define us.” However, we must believe that peace is possible.
At the opening ceremony of the 2018 Olympus, they sang John Lennon’s “Image,” “You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one. I hope someday you’ll join us. And the world will live as one.” Let’s make the dream a reality.