Reflection: Jesus’ first listeners were probably thinking of the Romans when he told them this beatitude. Many in his day were calling for violent rebellion to oust the violent occupiers. One rebel song written in Jerusalem shortly before Jesus (known as the Psalms of Solomon) went like this: “The kingdom of our God is forever over the nations in judgment. See, O Lord, and raise up for your people their king, the son of David. Undergird him with the strength to destroy the unrighteous rulers, to purge Jerusalem from gentiles, to smash the arrogance of sinners like a potter’s jar.”
But Jesus comes along and insists that the truly ‘blessed’—those who participate in God’s mind—work instead for ‘peace’.
Erica Chenoweth (of the University of Denver) and Maria Stephan (of the US Institute of Peace) studied the success rate of 330 major civil resistance movements from 1900 to 2006. They found that violent resistance movements were successful in 26% of cases, and nonviolent resistance movements were successful in 53% of cases. So, peace-making is more effective than violent action.
More important is that fact that Jesus said the ‘peace-makers’ will be called ‘children of God’. That is, they bear the ‘family resemblance’ of the God of peace.
Question: Where in your life right now could you be a better ‘peace-maker’?