Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God (Matthew 5:9).
The spirituality of peacemaking involves knowing Christ by reaching out to others with care. We reach out to “the least of these,” the hungry, thirst, lonely, naked, sick, and imprisoned and find him there in a kind of homecoming (Matthew 25:31-46). Our ministry makes peace by walking a path to the vulnerable and marginalized.
At one time or another, peacemakers also occupy the position of the least of these. I think of a young man who emerged from tough childhood circumstances to build up young people facing the same challenges. Mother Teresa embraced voluntary poverty and experienced a dark night for much of her ministry. My grandfather was sick almost to death when God called him to a long ministry. They knew something of the pain of those to whom they reached out. From their place of pain, God called them to acts of mercy they could not achieve alone.
Like these three, listen for your call amid suffering. God does not call you from your pain into perpetual retreat from the risks of love. Indeed, even as you suffer, God empowers you to give.
Years into my career as a therapist, I faced depression darker and anxiety more agonizing than I ever imagined possible for me. I did not have to suffer as my patients did to help them. But after a long journey of suffering and healing, I found within a gift that felt fresh and new: confidence grounded in humility, a seasoned skill rooted in passionate care, a deeper empathy hard-earned, and an unselfish love for others springing from a more solid sense of self. Strangely, a contagious joy and hope emerged in therapeutic conversations as I joined my patients in their pain.
I cannot imagine getting to this place without that trek through the dark valley when I was among the least of these accepting help from the many angels God sent my way — friends at church and elsewhere, my parents, my therapist, my spiritual director, and of course, my lovely wife, Wanda.
In the spirit of Paul, let me ironically boast: God uses me as a peacemaker, not because I possess some special goodness, wit, or strength, but because, like a child, I pray my need and walk the uncertain path in front of me expecting God to answer. Angels walk with me. That is a miracle. That is peace.