Blessed are the peacemakers, Jesus says, for they will be called children of God.
It seems to me that, of all the Beatitudes, this is one of the most straight forward and easily understood. And also one of the hardest.
First of all, blessed are the peacemakers. Literally, the makers of peace. That might include peace keepers, it might include those who’ve found spiritual peace or who are at peace with themselves, but it’s more than that. It’s the one’s who work to make peace happen.
Secondly, by virtue of being that, they’ll be called children of God. Okay, but we’re all children of God. Yes, but I think what Jesus is pointing out is the example they become. In order to be peacemakers, they live into their nature as children of God and bring that to the world around them. They’re aware of the divine spirit within themselves and live that love, compassion, grace - all that good stuff - into the world around them. They’re doing their best to live into their relationship with God and with God’s presence in the people and the world around them. They become an example to the world around them and each are called a child of God. Just like Jesus.
Which I think, as I’ve said before, is what Jesus is about. Imagine the peace we would live in if we could all be Jesus.
And that’s the hard part. Well, parts. We don’t.
Just like the crowd that listened to Jesus that day, we’re all different. We have different relationships with ourselves, with God, with people, with creation. Just like the crowd that day, some of us struggle, some of us doubt, some of seek, some of us are weak. Most of all we’re afraid and angry. We don’t imagine peace like Jesus does.
We still think peace is simply an end to conflict and the way conflicts are ended is by force. Fighting is ended because there’s a winner and a loser and the winner is the one with the most power. That’s not just today, I think many in the crowd listening to Jesus that day may have understood that, too. They lived under “Pax Romana,” the Roman peace, imposed on conquered peoples and maintained by an army. That’s a particular order maintained by power over people and we see it in everyday life, whether that power is force, persuasion or manipulation. That’s not the peace Jesus is talking about.
Jesus means the peace that comes from creating community where people feel they belong, where there is freedom, equity and an appreciation for the diversity which contributes to that community. That’s a wholeness of being that comes from sharing, respecting, communicating and doing all that with grace and an open heart. This peace honours vulnerability, empathy and engagement, not force and oppression.
And we don’t imagine we can be Jesus. We set Jesus apart and hold him up as an example of something we can never attain when we should be holding him close and aspiring to be what he shows us we can. We’ll fail sometimes, but the divine spirit in each of us can pick us up and try again.
We know peacemakers and we do call them children of God. I’m sure Jesus saw them in the crowd that day and we see them, not just in history or in the headlines, but in our everyday lives. And, just like Jesus, we should embrace them, hold them close, and learn from them.