By Kathy Ebner
Entering a new year brings us all to reflect on the quality of our life. How do I live as a Catholic Christian? Are my decisions in line with God’s will? These questions are crucial to a person desiring to live a life honoring God, the creator.
I believe the practical wisdom necessary for living a Christian life can be found in the Beatitudes and their influence on my decisions. The Ten Commandments are mainly a list of what not to do. The Beatitudes are the new law, given by Jesus, teaching us how to live in God’s grace. Keeping in mind these Beatitudes and observing how Christ lived, we can learn how to live our lives wisely.
Although all the Beatitudes are related and dependent upon each other, there is one that is an important guideline for my life. “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the children of God.” So often this beatitude is linked solely to wars, but I believe that each person needs to strive to be a peacemaker in their own life.
How do we live as a peacemaker in our culture of materialism and utilitarianism? We live in a world where the concept of “me first” dominates, and where aggression is an accepted way of life. We teach our children aggression is fun in the guise of sports and entertainment.
A teacher was working with a class of children who were labeled mentally challenged. As a break from studies, she taught them a game that involved tying a balloon around the ankle of a child. The object of the game was to form teams and have the children break the balloon.
The children did not want to play, and the teacher asked what was wrong? One child replied, “If I break Mary’s balloon she will be sad. This is not a fun game.”
More than 15 years ago, I was introduced to the vow of nonviolence. It was an entry into a journey with God that called me to re-evaluate the practical decisions in my life. I found that forming my conscience based on the values of a nonviolent way of life is a definite challenge. Striving for peace within myself and seeking to be a peacemaker in my daily life is a call to me to live moderately in my inner self.
As a type-A personality, the drive for accomplishment and perfection can overwhelm me and overflow into frustration and anger towards others. The need for patience and moderation of time and expectations are virtues that require much discipline in my life. The call to be a peacemaker begins within each individual and can only be realized by living the Christian virtues.
Becoming a peacemaker in life also means refraining from harmful gossip, hurtful remarks, or statements not harmful in themselves, but which may provoke feelings of self-doubt or inferiority in another person. This calls for a sensitivity and openness to others and the courage to endure without commenting when annoyed.
I believe the hardest part of being a peacemaker is living conscientiously and simply so that I do not deprive others of the means to live. How can we expect a peaceful world when over half the world’s population has to face violence every day?
It’s God’s grace that opens our eyes to the violence and injustice in our world and calls us to walk the journey with him using the Beatitudes as our guide.
Ebner, a spiritual director, is a member of St. Jude the Apostle Parish, in Lewes.