by Rev. John Dear, S.J.
Pax Christi USA Ambassador of Peace
Editor’s note: This meditation is the second of a five-part summer series on the peace writings in the psalms.
“Come and see the works of the God of peace who has done awesome deeds on earth, who stops wars to the ends of the earth, breaks the war bow, splinters the war spear, and burns the war shields with fire, who says: ‘Be still and know that I am the God of peace.’ ” (Ps. 46: 9-11)
How refreshing to hear this verse, right in the center of the Bible, from Psalm 46: The God of peace stops wars and dismantles weapons. This is the God who made us, the God who calls us, the living God we will soon meet face to face. This God, it seems to me, is a God worth seeking and knowing.
But we don’t hear much about this God these days. I have often thought that the heart of our global crisis comes from our false image of God. Most of us imagine a god who makes war, blesses war, supports our wars and admires our weapons. But this is not the God of Psalm 46 or the God of the nonviolent Jesus. In his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus names God as a peacemaker who practices universal nonviolent love toward all creation by letting the sun shine on the good and the bad and the rain to fall on the just and the unjust. This true image of a nonviolent God changes everything.
As every spiritual director knows, God is always moving in close to us with love and blessings, and every individual responds up to a point and then stops. Every one of us resists the movement of our peacemaking God at some point for some reason, usually because we are afraid of what might be asked of us, even though God usually just wants to love us and be with us like a doting parent. But we don’t realize that we are resisting God. That’s why a spiritual director is so helpful. A good spiritual director is a like a coach who sees God’s movement toward us and our movement away from God, and encourages us to go back to prayer and welcome God…