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Peace Be With You

In the Beatitudes Jesus taught the crowds gathered on the hillside, He presents the way to happiness in the Kingdom of God. You can find much beautiful commentary across twenty centuries on these timeless words. Even better, spend time in quiet prayer and ask Jesus to tell you more: “What do You want to say to me about following You and finding joy? Speak, Lord, your servant is listening.” Especially timely today from these words: “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” Peace was the farewell gift of Jesus to the Apostles (John 14:27); peace was the first word of the Risen Christ to those same fearful disciples (John 20:19). Yet even in the Body of Christ, peace is so elusive today, as you know all too well. All the more do we have the task to work toward peace. As I often say from the ethics of disaster planning: we cannot prevent all the harms that history brings, but we can act in such a way that we do not add to them. So how are we to be peacemakers? This is not as simple as optimism, avoiding conflicts, or ignoring problems. At the same time, addressing those problems is not easy, quick, or likely to meet with unqualified success. Indeed, part of holiness is learning to live with imperfection in ourselves and in others while striving to be better. When St. Paul prayed that his struggles would cease, Jesus told him: “My grace is sufficient for you, for in weakness, power reaches perfection” (II Cor. 12:9). There is no single strategy for making peace, but I offer a few suggestions of what being a peacemaker might look like in our interactions. - Assume positive intent. Do not automatically engage others as adversaries to be opposed or problems to be managed. - Listen more than you speak. - Do a good deed for someone this week with intention and genuine concern. - Smile and let yourself feel it. - Look for the positive and affirm it as an antidote to the

“Era of the Complaint.” - Fast from media that rouse your passions. If you find yourself succumbing to anger, hatred, contempt – turn it off. The purpose of news is to inform, not inflame. - If it is a rumor, gossip, an insult, or a disparaging remark, just don’t say it. - Cultivate a wholesome and constructive hobby that gives you joy and even better, gives others joy. - Above all, pray. Prayer helps us keep perspective. Jesus speaks of the wisdom of building on solid rock, so that the storms that inevitably come do not demolish. If we build on the shifting sands of commentary and public opinion, political affiliations, or whatever we read on the Web, we become vulnerable to unrest, disillusionment, frustration, anger. Whenever we find our worldview and conscience being formed more by human voices and opinions than by the Word of God, we need to reorient our hearts with the help of the Holy Spirit. Do I always do these things myself? No; I certainly fail at times. But I am going to try to use the rest of the Year of St. Joseph – that man in whose home God’s own Peace in the flesh dwelt – to improve, even if a little. I invite you to join me. Fr. Tom

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