Blessed Are Those Who Love Peace1. “Blessed are the peacemakers,” Our Lord says, “for they shall be called children of God.” (Mt. 5:9)
All those who are in the state of grace, and therefore living on the supernatural plane, are the adopted sons of God and sharers in His divine nature, (Cf. 2 Peter 1:4) which they will enjoy one day in the Beatific Vision. Our Saviour, however, refers to those who love peace as being in a special way the sons of God. Why is this? St. Augustine offers the real explanation. (Cf. De Serm. Domini, lib. I, Cap. 2) God is perfect peace and harmony. In Him there is no conflict. His being and His activity are identical. He is perfect unity and simplicity, eternal and unaffected by the limitations of space and time. Now, the son should be a living image of the father. Those who reflect, although necessarily in a limited way, this peace, harmony and serene activity in their own personality, deserve to be called in a special way the sons of God. They are the true lovers of peace.
2. How can one achieve this calmness of approach and manner of behaviour? We can consult St. Augustine again. (Ibid.) It is particularly necessary that the faculties and movements of our lower nature should be under control and subjects to right reason. It is reason which should govern us. It should guide us constantly and exercise complete control over all those parts of our nature which are common to men and animals. It is disastrous if the desires of the flesh rebel against the spirit, and worse still if they gain the upper hand. Then there can be no more peace of heart. There is no longer that reflection of the divine harmony which the grace of God had bestowed on us. There is only slavery, the slavery which takes away liberty and peace. It is very necessary, therefore, that “that part of man which is the highest and most perfect should rule without opposition the remaining parts which are common to men and animals; but in its turn this supreme faculty, that is, the intellect or reason, should be subject to God Almighty.” (Ibid.)
It is clear from these words that peace in us is the result of two kinds of necessary obedience, the obedience to right reason of the lower faculties, and the obedience of right reason to God, our Creator.
“This is the peace which God gives on earth to men of good will; this is the most perfect wisdom.” (Ibid.)
3. Peace is especially opposed to sentiments of anger and hatred against our brothers. It commands us to love and help them. Hatred is the heritage of Cain, because God says that “he who does not love abides in death. Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer. And you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.” (I John 3:15) A man who hates his brother may not actually kill him, but he is guilty of murdering him in his heart. As a result he loses peace of soul, because, as St. Augustine points out (Sermon 82), by hating somebody you create disorder in yourself and destroy that divine harmony which was the gift of divine grace and charity.
If we wish to preserve interior peace, we must cast out from our hearts every vestige of hatred for our neighbour and entertain love, understanding and forgiveness for all. By loving our enemies we place ourselves above them by an act of true Christian nobility. We imitate Jesus, Who forgave His executioners and prayed for them from the Cross. A fit of anger is like a moment of madness. It is a great misfortune for anyone to yield to it. He speaks and acts like a man who has lost his reason and allows himself to be carried away by blind passion. When the moment of insanity is over, he will be ashamed of himself and of all that he has said and done.
It is necessary to be masters of ourselves and of our feelings. Never speak or act until anger has subsided within you. By persevering in co-operation with the grace of God, preserve that inward calmness which is a reflection of the peace of God.
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