(A Newspaper Submission)
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” (Matthew 5:9)
11:00 am November 11, 1918. After four long and bloody years of war the guns fall silent. And every year since then we pause at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month to Remember. And in the remembering we utter the prayer “Never Again!”
Never again! Given the state of the world what do those words mean? Never again! How do we make them true? We make them true by becoming peacemakers for ourselves. We make them true by actively working for peace, true peace, in whatever part of the world we can touch.
True peace is what we need. True peace, that peace that goes far beyond the absence of open conflict, is the only way to ensure that we can say “Never again!” with confidence. True peace is what Jesus was calling us to make when he said: 'I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me. … Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.’ (Matthew 25:35-40).
To be peacemakers is a real challenge. It is far easier to believe that we can make peace by installing governments we think are “better” in troubled areas of the world. But, at best, that provides a brief respite in fighting. True peace goes to the heart of the matter. True peace pushes us to ask, seriously ask, “Why are people so mad at us?” or “Why do people sleep on park benches and eat at soup kitchens?” or “What do you mean there are children in Ontario schools who suffer from malnutrition and hunger?”
Being peacemakers means we have to work for a new world. True peace comes when we learn to ensure that all have their needs met. True peace comes not from the barrel of a gun but from the cockles of the heart (whatever a cockle is).
This year, as we pause for a Pittance of Time and remember those who fought for King and country, may we also take seriously the prayers for peace. This year, may we recommit ourselves to make the words “Never Again!” more than just words.
God being our helper, it is possible.