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Making peace

It’s the hard work we are called to

Let me be honest: I don’t have much free time to watch television. There are a couple of series that I try to follow with the assistance of my trusty VCR, but otherwise I don’t have much extra time to devote to being a couch potato. However, when an opportunity does present itself, I thoroughly enjoy watching home improvement shows – especially those on public broadcasting. A particular favorite tackles a different project each year, often transforming an older, seemingly worn-out house into a beautiful home. What amazes me time and again is the incredible amount of work – blood, sweat and tears, really – required to accomplish the transformation. Yet with effort and hard work there comes transformation, and with transformation there comes beauty.

This month we turn our focus to the seventh beatitude: Blessed are the peacemakers for they will be called children of God. I can’t help but notice that Jesus says “the peace-makers” and does not say “the peace-ful.” Not that those who are at peace aren’t also children of God, but it strikes me that Jesus had in mind those who make peace – those who work diligently, tirelessly, perhaps even relentlessly in the pursuit of peace. I am also struck by the sense that the peace that Jesus has in mind is not just the kind that comes from the work of diplomats on behalf of the community of nations. The sense of peace that Jesus has in mind is all-encompassing, spanning from individual to family; from family to community; from community to nation; from nation to world. Efforts to bring about the peace of God’s kingdom require hard work – blood, sweat and tears, really – in order to continue to transform our world into God’s coming kingdom.

Any couple who have struggled to bring peace to their married life knows the challenge of peace all too well. Ken and Teresa Roof were on the verge of divorce after 35 years of marriage. Yet with the assistance of Retrouvaille (ret-ro-vie), with the support of their faith in God and with a great deal of hard work and prayer, Ken and Teresa were able to save their marriage and make it even stronger and more beautiful. The effort to bring about peace in their lives has resulted in something very beautiful, something which they share together with other couples who are experiencing marital difficulties.

Jim Russo and Ethel Hooker, both of whom have taken the Church’s wealth of social teaching to heart, have walked difficult and sometimes dangerous paths in their ongoing effort to extend God’s peace to our world. The kind of peace of which Jesus speaks – peace rooted in justice and respect for all human life – is often misunderstood. It is also difficult, challenging work. Blood, sweat and tears – hard work, the work of the cross – brings about transformation, and with transformation comes the beauty of God’s kingdom. And so our journey in FAITH continues.