Rev. John Dear, S.J.

by Fr. John Dear, S.J.
Pax Christi USA Ambassador of Peace

This past weekend, a group of us gathered in the Poconos near East Stroudsburg, Pa., for a simple weekend retreat, “Jesus the Peacemaker.” We looked at general themes of peacemaking in his life, then focused on Luke 10 and how he sends 72 disciples out on a mission of peace (“like lambs sent into the midst of wolves”). We then shared stories from the missions of peace we had undertaken during our own lives. We concluded Sunday morning with reflections about encountering the risen, peacemaking Jesus, like the downcast disciples on the road to Emmaus, and how he turns us around with new hope to carry on the struggle of peace.

One of my questions was: How did he do it? How did Jesus practice such perfect peacemaking? How did he embody nonviolence so well, as Gandhi said he did?

We looked for clues in the story of Jesus’ baptism, when he is at prayer by the Jordan River and hears God say, “You are my beloved son; with you I am well pleased.” This moment holds the key in my understanding of Jesus’ peacemaking life: Unlike the rest of us, Jesus accepts this announcement of God’s nonviolent love for him and claims his true identity as the beloved son of the God of peace. From then on, he knows who he is. He’s faithful to this discovery of his identity until the moment he dies.

I think God tells every one of us, “You are my beloved.” If we could hear this invitation and claim this truth as our core identity, we too could go forth into the culture of war as peacemakers. This insight, I believe, is the key to Christian nonviolence, the spiritual life and our very humanity.

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