Mass for Peace and Justice

Mass for the school children.
Today’s Readings: Isaiah 9:1-6 | Psalm 72 | Philippians 4:6-9 | Matthew 5: 1-12

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.”  That’s a wonderful promise that Jesus makes in today’s Gospel reading, and I think it’s a promise we should hang on to in these days when peace doesn’t always seem so near to us.

Jesus tells us today that we can make peace happen in a world that isn’t always peaceful, and we do that by being peacemakers.  So what are peacemakers and what do they do?

First of all, peacemakers are people who know that God loves us and wants us to be safe and happy.  Peacemakers are people who know that arguing and fighting never accomplish anything but hard feelings, but that conversation and understanding can overcome just about anything.  Peacemakers are people who want what’s right, and care about other people from their heart.  Peacemakers are people who know that they are loved, and want other people to know that too.  The world needs a lot of peacemakers, now and always.

The good news is that you can be a peacemaker.  When you hear about wars and conflict and crime, it might seem like there is nothing we can do to change any of that.  But that’s not true.  We often sing the song “Let There Be Peace on Earth” and there’s a line in it that says, “let it begin with me.”  It’s a great line because peace can begin with us, and it’s supposed to.  So how do we do that?

Well, think about all those qualities of peacemakers that I just talked about.  The first thing you can do to be a peacemaker is to remember God loves you.  You might remember hearing me say that the most important thing you can remember about God is that he loves you, and if that’s all that you remember, it will get you pretty far.  That’s true here.  Peacemakers have to remember that God loves them, because God’s love overcomes fear and hate and sadness.   When you remember that God loves you, you will naturally want other people to know that God loves them too. 

Peacemakers are people who want what’s right.  So they stand up for others when they are being bullied or gossiped about, and they refuse to take part in those kinds of things.  They are people who see the best in others and remember that Jesus is present in every person in some way.  They remember that Jesus is in them too, and some days, we might be the only Jesus that someone else sees.  And they see it when we are compassionate and kind to them and to other people.

Peacemakers are people who remember that arguing and fighting never accomplish anything.  And so they seek to have real conversations instead of arguments.  They don’t call people names, or discriminate against others based on the color of their skin or the place where they were born or the language that they speak.  They remember that God loves everyone in every place, and so they need to love everyone too. 

Peacemakers are people who forgive from their heart.  They don’t hang on to grudges, and they remember that God has forgiven them many times for so many things, so the least they can do is to forgive others too.

Peacemakers are people who pray for peace.  That’s why we are celebrating a Mass for peace and justice today.  We know that true peace can only come from Jesus.  It’s not something we can force on the world or even on those close to us.  Real peace comes from God who is merciful and just and loving.  So they pray for peace every day: peace in far away lands where wars are being fought, peace in our community and our school and even in our families.  Peace is a gift, and we pray that God would spread that gift far and wide and help everyone to receive it.

We can be peacemakers.  We can remember that we are loved and then share that love.  We can want what’s right and see the best in others.  We can work for understanding and real conversations rather than arguing and fighting.  We can refuse to gossip and discriminate against others and forgive from our hearts.  We can pray for peace every day. “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.”