The Australian Catholic Bishops have issued some very useful suggestions on how we can become ‘Peace Makers’. These steps are worth reviewing.
Peace comes from the conviction that everyone is made in the image and likeness of God. We are all equal and we also have a dignity which needs to be recognised by each one of us. People are not just competitors; they have a God-given status. We should meet everyone in a non-violent way, especially our opponents. We say what we believe and are be willing to listen to the belief of others. Only then can we agree on the facts.
Quite clearly, Christianity teaches us that we have to appreciate the value of forgiveness. Letting go of past hurts and admitting that we may have also contributed to the conflict can change our behaviour, give us peace and may help to bring unity.
At all costs we must reject violent language and action. If we are prone to respond in this way, we should determine to speak the truth in kindness. Tensions can arise on an ethnic, religious, business, sport or political level. We should object when you see another person being bullied and stand by those who have no voice when there are disagreements.
Providing a place or opportunity for a meeting is very important. Without dialogue violence becomes more of a possibility. Then violence leads to more violence. We should provide the opportunity for others to make peace by speaking openly about their points of discontent.
All forms of violence cause some sort of suffering and pain. When we see this we must give our help and seek to support and comfort those who are suffering. In this way we can break the cycle of violence.
We should have a sense of gratitude towards those who are kind to us. We must thank these people because it is God who sent them; it was a gift from God and for this we thank Him.
Peace makers are actually agents of God. Prayer brings about a sense of the presence of God and an ability to face the challenges and hurts that occur during our lifetime. Prayer can change our world as it brings us closer to God.
It is important each day to examine how we have behaved as a peace maker during that day. No one is perfect and we should acknowledge our own short comings before we begin the challenges of each day.
Jesus said, “But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you” (Matt. 5:44).
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