Blessed are the Peacemakers!

Matthew 5:9

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.

“It takes three to make a quarrel,” said Chesterton. “There is needed a peacemaker. The full potentialities of human fury cannot be reached until a friend of both parties tactfully intervenes.” Chesterton was being funny, of course. But as always, he was wisely pointing to a truth as well. It is the truth that keeps so many from being peacemakers–the truth that peacemakers will always be accused of being weenies and wimps by mutually hostile parties. All the beatitudes pronounce a blessing on things which common sense tells us are not blessed. Being poor when everybody wants to be rich, merciful when everybody is screaming for blood, mournful when everybody wants gladness–all these things are counter-intuitive. And to be a peacemaker–to suggest that the goal is ultimately to will the eternal good of, say, Osama bin Laden (even if you are obliged to shoot him in order to protect the innocent) is counter-intuitive too. When the war first broke out, voices in some sectors of the American public were running editorials with titles like “Push the Damn Button!” and urging the insanity of nuclear retaliation The President, to his credit, did not take this “war as cathartic therapy” approach. To be sure, he knew the war had to be fought. But his ultimate goal was peace and the destruction of the capacity of evil men to inflict their evil on innocent people, not a simple orgy of vengeance. In acting on this knowledge, he was paradoxically, a peacemaker. And he suffered the insults of the “Push the Damn Button!” crowd, as peacemakers always do. In a far greater way, the Prince of Peace suffered far greater insults when he did not call down twelve legions of angels, as he could have. Peacemaking is always a sacrificial act. But the sacrifice is a holy one, offered by the children of God.

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