Stories Seldom Heard
October 2018 - Matthew 5: 9
“Blessed are they who strive for peace and justice;
they shall be called the sons and daughters of God.”
Can we be like drops of water
falling on the stone
disbursing the air?
Weaker than the stone by far
but be aware
that as time goes by
the rock will wear away.
And the water comes again
And the water comes again! (1)
Welcome to Stories Seldom Heard. I would especially like to
welcome those who participated in the Diocesan Pastoral Congress on
the Laity, Salt Lake City, Utah.
Years ago I heard this song and it reminded me of the peacemaking
process. Peace and justice come slowly, but God’s promise will be
fulfilled. Peace and justice will come to the earth!
The beatitudes are not an “other” world system. They are to be
lived now in this world. Matthew writes them in the present tense
and those who strive to live according to them receive a very
important gift in their daily lives now. We hear of this gift in
the first word of each beatitude. “Happy” or “Blessed” is the one
who…. This is part of the mystery Matthew is trying to reveal to
us. Those who hear the Word of God and strive to practice it are
“blessed” and “happy” now because they know they are acting with
The beatitudes place before us a way of being in this world and a
set of attitudes: a life style and a stance from which we view the
world around us and our own situations. The more we quietly reflect
on scripture and listen to God in prayer, the more our ears will
hear. Because the knowledge we gain from scripture and prayer is
more than just information or memorizing passages, it will help us
see life differently. Our prayer and study will reshape our
vision. Beatitude people are both listeners of the Word and doers
of the Word. Both eyes and both ears must be open to the Word of
God and to the world around us.
There are different ways to translate the seventh beatitude. I
prefer the following translation: “Blessed are those who strive for
justice and peace; they shall be called sons and daughters of God.”
Change and transformation take time. It’s a slow process like water
dripping on stone. The word “strive” has always been a reassuring
word for me because it speaks of an intention, a desire to do
something. We don’t always act perfectly or complete a project
without a flaw, especially when we are learning something new. But
as we study an issue and explore its possibilities we become more
knowledgeable. We “see” and “hear” in a new way and these insights
slowly direct our actions.
Happy are those who strive, who recognize that they/we don’t have
all the answers. Blessed are those/we who work at being
peacemakers, trusting that God will direct their/our actions. Our
actions are like water dripping on a stone. Each small and large
act of justice and nonviolence slowly wears away the stones of
hardness that we find within ourselves and in our society.
Recently in our town two young Muslim men, brothers, were murdered.
They owned a small Afghan restaurant that was gaining popularity.
The brothers were known to be gracious to everyone and the rumor was
they served great Afghan cuisine. So when the news of their death
appeared in the newspaper people were shocked and horrified. In the
shadow of such a tragedy it is not hard to find compassionate ways
to respond. The clergy in the area were very attentive. They
committed themselves to preach at their weekend services on
appreciation of and respect for diversity. Many people from the
city who didn’t know the family were present for the wake service.
The reflections of those who were present begged for religious and
racial tolerance, acceptance and understanding. Some people
contributed money so that the bodies of the two young men could be
buried in their homeland. In the weeks that followed the funeral
the members of the interfaith council began a study program. They
offered classes on the beliefs of the major religious traditions.
There is no one, correct or best way to respond compassionately to
those who have been victims of violence. Yet, each of us needs to
find some way to be in solidarity with those who are treated
unjustly. Some people attend vigil services at the street corner or
at the house where the violent act has taken place. Other people
pray for the family and/or send sympathy cards to family members.
Others have gotten more involved with their local neighborhood watch
organizations. We, in our convent, write the person’s name, date
and place of the incident on an index card. We place this card on
our altar next to the crucifix. These actions might be small steps,
but each action hopefully brings about healing. They also help us
develop empathy for those who suffer and enable us to find creative
nonviolent ways to respond.
As we look around our world and listen to the news it is easy to
become discouraged. No wonder Jesus says, “Blessed is the one who
does not lose faith in me (Mt. 11:6).” Sometimes we feel like
Peter in the garden who wanted to raise his sword against the
soldiers to protect Jesus. Yet, we know that is not Jesus’ way.
“Those who live by the sword will die by the sword (Mt. 26:54).”
There are many ways to strive to be peacemakers. We need to study
and pray with scripture. We also need to study and analyze critical
situations in our society, so we will understand what fosters and
supports violence. Yet, according to Jesus seeing and hearing,
studying and analyzing are not enough. We also need to respond
through acts of compassion and justice. Peacemaking is both an
interior and exterior process. The water that drips on the rock is
both interiorly and exteriorly transformative. In other words, our
prayer, discussions and analysis will awaken in us a new
consciousness so that we might become more effective peacemakers.
Special thanks to Mary Ellen Green and Maria Hetherton who have
helped in editing this article. "Stories Seldom Heard" is a
monthly article written by Sister Patricia Bruno, O.P. Sister is a
Dominican Sister of San Rafael, California. This service is offered
to the Christian community to enrich one's personal and spiritual
life. The articles can be used for individual or group reflection.
If you would like to support this
ministry, please send your contributions to:
Dominican Sisters of San Rafael
c/o Sister Patricia Bruno, O.P.,
2517 Pine Street, San Francisco, CA 94115 Thank
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Thank you. Bob McGrath