We talk about peace, but it’s generally an abstract concept describing relations between nations. Nevertheless, at every Mass we hear the words of Jesus, “My peace I give to you.” That’s huge. I’ve often thought that we don’t allow ourselves to experience that reality, especially in our closest relationships. Maybe it’s because we don’t know how.
Now, few months ago, I started following the work of Kevin A. Thompson, a Christian pastor who writes a lot on marriage and family issues. I find that he consistently offers solid, practical advice, which is clearly based on his pastoral experience and his faith. I also like that his wife is his editor and works closely with him.
This morning’s post, “The First Step to Solving a Marital Problem,” includes a link to a previous post, “Why Nobel Peace Prize Winners Get Divorced” or “What Nelson Mandela Taught Me About Marriage,” which I found even more insightful.
We often think of marriage as the holy matrimony of two completely compatible individuals. In reality it’s the Blue and the Grey, the Hatfields and McCoys, the Roadrunner and Wiley Coyote.
A husband and wife are two completely different people, with different experiences, different backgrounds, different genetic makeups, and with different expectations trying to live life together. Conflict is guaranteed. While we shouldn’t seek it, we should embrace it because making peace in the midst of conflict is the task of marriage.
Notice it is peacemaking. Not peace-receiving.
Peace is made. It is struggled for and fought for. It is attained through hard work, sacrifice, energy and effort. Peace is not something which magically comes to us. Jesus didn’t say, “blessed are the peace-receivers.
He goes on to discuss the beatitudes and how they should play a role in marriage. I find it particularly interesting as the beatitudes have been on my mind a lot. I just spoke at a Vatican conference on the beatitudes and am currently teaching an Intro to Moral Theology class. The beatitudes are the road map for the Christian life and a complete reorientation from the Old Testament. While the beatitudes promise us nothing on earth (they are all about the Kingdom of God that we hope to join in the future), the practice of them can lead to happiness in this life. And they’re not just about works of charity towards people we may not know well or at all. I find it very helpful to see them applied to marriage and they could just as easily be applied to any relationship, particularly familial relationships.
Do read his entire piece here.
Peace is not received; it’s made. And it takes everything we have to make it.