I’ve been working through the blessings of jesus as reported in Matthew 5. The complete passage is translated 6 blogs back.
Happiness for the peacemakers!
they shall be called God’s children.
Again we should note that the respectful passive mood means that God will call them his/her children.
The Greek word for peacemaker occurrs only here in the Bible, albeit in both Old and New Testaments peace is one of the most desired of God’s gifts. In the Old Testament, the Hebrew “Shalom” means wholeness, welfare, wellbeing, as well as peace, and is used to describe communal, societal and international conditions rather than personal experiences. In the the writings of St Paul, it refers to relationships with others or with God. Peace with God is especially treasured by Paul, while “kindness and peace from God” is one of his habitual greetings.
In Jesus’ blessings we can I think assume a primary reference to those who create interpersonal and communal peace, although there may be a secondary reference to those who create wellbeing of any sort.
Jesus would not have been starry-eyed about the human capacity for peace. Elsewhere he is reported as denying that he has come to bring peace and admitting that he causes division. Indeed he must have been aware that his ministry divided his own family and his own nation. That reminds me that the OT prophets recognised there could be a false peace:
”A curse upon those who say, “Peace, peace,” when there is no peace.”
Doubtless Jesus understood that true peace involved challenges to the advocates of unjust peace, especially in his ministry to the religious authorities of his people. We should note however, that he was not in favour of violent rebellion against the Roman invader. If Jesus thought of himself as a peacemaker, we must conclude that he saw it as working for God’s goodness amongst people without compromise yet without violence, but with care for all, including the opponent.
That’s a tall order, because it does not rest on a calculation about what word or action is most likely to create peace. Jesus spoke and acted “in peace” regardless of immediate consequences.
There is no way to peace, for peace is the way.
Those who follow Jesus in this respect, may not find themselves creating peacefulness around themselves, but rather offering a “place of poise” in the midst of conflicts and difficulties. Their desire for common wellbeing appeals to the same desire in others, if it exists, and may create longer or shorter times, when peace happens. But even when there is no response from others, the peacemaker is united to the great event of peacemaking, which is God. And happiness. Sometimes there will be others who share this happiness, at other times there will be none, but at all times the peacemaker knows the happiness of a true identity between her/himself and the creator of life. This is not a mystical moment but a down to earth knowledge that one has acted with no worldly justification in the name of something the world truly needs.
Jesus did not say when God would call the peacemakers his children, but he knew that whenever he did so, it would be forever.