The Beatitudes and The Peacemakers
The heart of Christ’s gospel message lies in the word “peacemakers” and the other Beatitudes. His message of liberation and hope for mankind is contained within those Beatitudes.
Who are the peacemakers and what are their fruits? Why are they called the children of God in the Beatitudes? Yes we are all created in God’s image and thus we are His souls. Yet these words: “children of God” have a special and distinctive meaning as Christ declaimed to His Disciples. A child remains a child during his minority then becomes man or woman. We do not remain children even if we are peacemakers. We were all children once of our parents but first and foremost our parents give birth to us and bring us up. It is stretching the meaning of the words to say we are all children of God. God does not interfere with the procreation process. It was Adam and Eve whom he created in his image and thereby mankind and womankind continue also for as long as the world survives.
2. The peacemakers as the Children of God
We come back as always to the Saints and above all Mary the lead Saint and Mother of God. Christ was the child of Mary and God in truth but distinct from the Beatitude quoted above where the meaning is not dogmatic but a little poetical. This is the essence of the matter – the Beatitudes are inspiring and aspiring to understand Heavenly life and qualities. The “peacemakers” takes some understanding as do the “children of God”. How do we define these two phrases at the centre of our Christianity!
3. The Saints and Mary
Any Saint worth his salt and Mary herself will be entitled to be called a peacemaker. For the rest of us we may fall short. Saints do not mince their words – their language is vivid and their beliefs are shattering (“Moving Mountains” as Christ tells us). A true peacemaker “moves Mountains” for the sake of Christ and His flock (not literally). I have been told a large part of a Mountain came apart from the main Mountain in the New Zealand Alps South Island. We also think of landslides, rift valleys, earthquakes, tsunamis, interlocking underground plates deep in the earth and volcanoes – all phenomenon of nature.
The Saints and Mary mirror these natural geological and earthly events in their lives by fundamentally reaching out to all those they encounter to spread the word of God. They are the “hand of God” as it were. Their charity and humility is so great a spiritual turbulence and monumental interaction begins and is carried through to the end of their lives. The lawyers and underwriters speak of an Act of God or Force Majeure taking the event outside the range of insured risks (perils). The actions and lives of the Saints including Mary are akin to the uninsured Acts of God that do not come ordinarily in to our experience. These Saints who matter are the peace makers and those who fit the Beatitudes. All the Beatitudes are essential but you cannot get much more important than the Peacemakers Beatitude perhaps only “those who suffer persecution for Christ’s sake”. He who speaks the word of God is a peacemaker. Thus all these qualities blessed in the Beatitudes demonstrate the virtues in the lives of the Christian Saints. The resulting descriptions of the rewards for these virtuous Saints define their Heavenly rewards and earthly characters.
Please remember we are not all Saints and very few of us will achieve Sainthood. Not all Saints will exemplify each Beatitude. Make no mistake Christ is speaking of Saints in these Beatitudes – He did not have long to convey the characteristics of true Holiness and in these spoken Beatitudes He achieved His aim. He wanted to encourage us all to desire Sainthood or at least be struck and amazed by the lives of the Saints we have known howsoever. These Saints a sample of whom abide with us now will then transform our lives by their example before and after they die if we have the good fortune to know one or of one.
4. The Children of God
Christ awards this prize to the peacemakers. It is resonant with His words: “unless you are like one of these little children you will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven”. As no one is certain of Saintliness no one is sure of salvation: Christ is reminding us of this dictum in these words of His: We need every bit of help we can lay our hands on – no one walks in to Heaven – you get there crawling on your hands and knees if you are lucky according to my reading. It is the little children who remind us of our impurity, weakness and corruption. These little children belong not to us but to God the Father in Heaven. In the Beatitude I speak of Christ is referring to this theme of the children belonging to God. As the Anglican prayer book for Holy Communion used to say: “we do not presume to come to thy table…” None of us however Holy is guaranteed salvation. If we match the Beatitudes there is hope but the Final decision is God the Father’s not ours. Yes the children of God belong to him and are only known to Him not to us mere mortals. The kernel of the thinking behind the Beatitudes is to know God by those Beatitudes and the praise He gives those who attain these objectives. The words of Christ are to bless His followers in these endeavours and give out the prize on earth or in Heaven later. Everyone who has strived to follow Christ in this world deserves to be satisfied in the next world in my argument be he Saint or no Saint – Sainthood is not for everyone. Of that we can be sure.
I have digressed in to the Beatitudes generally to develop my argument – “To be merciful, to be mournful, to be poor in spirit, to be meek, to be pure in heart, to hunger and thirst after what is right, to be a peacemaker, to suffer persecution for Christ’s sake”. As I say they are all aspects of Christ’s persona and those of his Saints and Mary His Mother. Christ always holds out hope to His followers and follow Him we will as good Christian soldiers. The Beatitudes are some of the most joyful words Christ ever uttered – indeed the most glorious and definitively powerful I would claim.