Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the sons of God.
For many years, two hermits lived together without any conflict or disagreement. One suggested they have a quarrel to see how others live. The other answered, “I don’t know how to start a quarrel.”
The first said, “Look, I’ll put this brick on the ground between us and claim it is mine. Then you insist it belongs to you. That’s how quarrels begin.”
They put the brick between them. One said, “That’s mine.” The other said, “No, that’s mine.” The first answered, “Yes, it belongs to you. Take it.” They were not able to argue with each other.
Peacemaking is difficult. Peacemaking within the light of Truth is particularly difficult for it requires the healing of souls. Peace is not the absence of conflict – the gifts of God are never measured by “absence.” It is evil that is measured by absence (“the absence of good”). Rather, peace is substantive – a true gift of the Spirit. Thus St. Seraphim of Sarov can say, “Acquire the Spirit of peace and a thousand souls around you shall be saved.”
To make peace it is necessary to be at peace – and this again requires the healing of our soul. The acquisition of the Spirit of peace is the fruit of repentance and humility.
I have a strong memory from my teenage years. We had a guest speaker in one of my classes – someone who was well-known for his opposition to the war in Vietnam (which was at its height at the time). We were discussing the various issues surrounding that national debate when the discussion rose to the level of argument and beyond. I was an advocate of peace in those years (I was 17 at the time) but also quick to leap to an argument. Mine was probably the loudest voice in the room, my points as sharp and well-aimed as any.
After the class (if it can be called that after the near brawl), the guest speaker took me aside: “Stephen, there is more than one way to do violence to a man.” It would be another five years before I would read the words of St. Seraphim about acquiring the Spirit of peace. Another 33 years have passed and I am waiting to acquire that same Spirit.
Blessed, indeed, are the peacemakers.