Last month I attended a special presentation by Elder Bernice King at St. Sabina’s on Chicago’s Southside. Bernice King is the youngest of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Coretta Scott-King’s four children. A renowned speaker worldwide, Elder King addressed the full to capacity church on the topic of non-violence. Her oratory stirred my soul and has me reflecting on our purpose as Black Catholics. While I cannot share all of what impressed me about the presentation here, I will offer one important focus and hopefully share more in a later blog. She began her oratory by referencing three scriptural passages:
- Matthew 5:9: Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
- John 14:27: Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid.
- Romans 8:19: For creation awaits with eager expectation the revelation of the children of God.
As children of God we are called to be peacemakers. Not transitory peace that relieves tensions but the Peace of Christ that only Christ can give. Elder King went on to say that we must exchange our “piece” for Jesus’ “peace”. What do we consider as our piece? There are those time when we are faced with the insult of racism, sexism, classism and we want to give someone a piece of our mind. There are those among us hell-bent on obtaining their piece of the good life and dare anything or anyone to get in their way. Some of us carry a piece (or a weapon) for protection. What else might be common “pieces” for us? What else do we cling to for security? To what do we tightly embrace for meaning, value or direction that is not of God? What is your piece?
What is it that distances me from God? What in my life masquerades as God and causes real peace to elude me? I must exchange my “piece” for the peace that only Jesus can give. My true peace comes from being at peace with God. That peace is a gift from God and I can’t manufacture it; I can’t buy it; I can’t control it; I can’t bargain with it; I can’t use it for my own self-service.
As peacemakers we can only submit to the Peace of Christ. We can only be witnesses to it, channel it to others, and be God’s instruments for bringing forth the “beloved community” of which Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke. We need to surrender to the Peace of Christ and become citizens of the Kingdom of God.