What Does It Means To Be An Instrument Of Peace?
I have been preparing a class on the St. Francis Prayer. This has been exciting, fun, and instructive. It has taken me down many roads and side streets leading into all sorts of places and thoughts. I thought of doing the class in one way than some new insight would strike me leading to change something about the class. The class as it is now doesn’t resemble my original vision for it, but I think that is good. As I get closer to actually teaching the class, the more nervous and excited I am. I think it will be a good, growing experience for me and I hope it be more of help than hindrance to those who attend.
Thomas Merton: “Instead of hating the people you think are war-makers, hate the appetites and disorder in your own soul, which are the causes of war. If you love peace, then hate injustice, hate tyranny, hate greed – but hate these things in yourself, not in another.”
In the documentary Lord Save Us From Your Followers, Tony Campolo tells the story of when he was in high-school there was a gay boy who was being ruthlessly bullied and dehumanized. Tony wasn’t there for the worst attack. I won’t repeat what Campolo says the other boys did to this boy, but it was horrific, evil. That night the boy went home and took his own life. Campolo said, “On that day I wasn’t a Christian. If I was a Christian, I would have been that boy’s friend” The following two scene’s stand out to me as to what a peacemakers do and are. In one scene, a DJ from a local rock station accompanies World Vision to Africa and hands out stickers to kids and this touches her so much that when she gets back through her radio station she gets 700 children sponsored. What touched her so was how excited and happy those little children were to have a piece of America. It didn’t take much to put a smile on their tired faces–just a Spongebob sticker. While there she witnessed, what happens when Christians gets there hands and feet dirty loving people instead of bashing people over the head with the bible. In the other scene a Portland, Oregon Church goes out and cares for the homeless of the area making a meal, cleaning them including washing their feet just like Jesus did on his last night. This to me is what it means to be the hands and feet of Jesus in our broken world.
This is what it means to be instruments of peace, you stretch out your own hand to a stranger and say let me show you how much God loves you, how much God cares for you. By being an instrument of God’s peace we are emphatically saying that there’s another story to tell a better one. A story of love, hope, joy, and light as opposed to the all too common story of hate, despair, sadness, and darkness.
This is one my favorite story and a good way to understand the opening line of St. Francis’ Prayer and how each of us could live this line out in the real world.
Shaya, a mentally handicap boy and his father are walking down the street just enjoying the fine April day when they happen on a ball game between a group boys about the same age as the handicap boy. Shaya wanted to join the game, but the father wasn’t sure the other boys would let him play. The father asks one of the boys. The boy reluctantly agrees to let Shaya play. But, as the close of the game is nearing all the handicap boy has done is play in the outfield and hasn’t been given a chance to swing at a ball. The last play of the game. The bases are loaded and the score tied. Shaya was up next to bat. The father looked on anxiously. Would the team let Shaya bat and risk losing the game or would they pass him over to win the game? The father looked on amazed when his son was given a bat and led to home plate. He missed the first pitch. Another boy from joined him and together they faced the next swing, a soft underhanded pitch. Together they hit the ball. The ball didn’t fall from them, but the boy pointed Shaya in the direction of first base. The pitcher grabbed the ball and threw it afar, so no one could get to it in time to strike Shaya out. The opposing team guided the handicap boy around to each base. The moment Shaya reached home base both teams embraced him lifting him on their shoulders in joy. Never had he hit a ball with a bat, never had he ran the bases, never had he been part of a winning team, never had he felt as he belonged with his peers.
That day those 18 boys reached their level of God’s perfection.
We all can do something to reach our level of God’s perfection. Whether it’s cleaning up a park, doing repairs for an elderly neighbor, organizing a food drive, saying thank you and meaning it, saying hi to a stranger, visiting a sick friend, volunteering somewhere, cook a friend dinner, say a prayer for someone. There multiple small things throughout the day that you and I can do that will bring a little more of God’s peace into our broken world. We just have to commit to becoming instruments of peace.
St. Francis of Assisi: “We have been called to heal wounds, to unite what has fallen apart, and to bring home those who have lost their way. Start by doing what is necessary, then what is possible, and suddenly you are doing the impossible. While you are proclaiming peace with your lips, be careful to have it even more fully in your heart. The deeds you do may be the only sermon some will hear today”
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