I’m writing this on the first Sunday of November, All Saints Day, and 2 days before the US elections. At Mass this morning, we heard Matthew’s recounting of the Beatitudes. At different times in my life, one or another of the paired qualities and blessings (or “happiness” as the original Greek makarios means) Jesus described has held special meaning for me. Has it been that way for you? There have been times when I needed encouragement to be merciful to that person who disappointed or offended me, and it was made much easier by remembering how much mercy I need and receive (always!) from God. When my father died almost a year ago, I was reassured of the blessing of being comforted, as have so many around the world in 2020.
After the results of the election are announced, some Americans will be jubilant and some will be disconsolate. As many commentators have noted, it feels like divisions in the country—political, racial, economic, etcetera—cut especially deeply these days, and that palpable sense of separation, disunity and opposition most likely will not disappear immediately. So, what is my role as a Catholic after the election, regardless of whether it goes the way I want it to or not? The beatitude that speaks to me now, in a gentle, inviting whisper, is the happiness of the peacemaker. Recalling that “there is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is their male or female, for [we] are all one in Christ Jesus” (Gal. 3:28), I feel inspired to reach across the lines that appear to divide us to make peace—to seek reconciliation and healing, to be salt and light in the world. The Church has modeled faithful reconciliation and peacemaking in its approach to ecumenical outreach using prayer, dialogue and action. See https://www.usccb.org/beliefs-and-teachings/how-we-teach/new-evangelization/jubilee-of-mercy/upload/EIA-Jubilee-Year-of-Mercy-Resource-FINAL.pdf
Whether your “side” wins or loses, or some of each, remember that our shared identity as children of God—and we are ALL children of God—means that no true victory can be won at the expense of another. So, after the election, pray for our leaders, that they make seek the common good, leaving no one behind. Pray for those who did not get the result they wanted, that they might find acceptance and peace. Pray for God to give you eyes of compassion for the challenges we all face, and the will and words to be a peacemaker in your family, community, church and country.
Make an effort to have conversations, meals and encounters with people of all political persuasions. Seek understanding and mutual respect, not conversion, and look for what we have in common, rather than focusing on our differences.
Witness to the Gospel beatitude of the peacemaker by engaging in social action with people who don’t agree with you on everything. Who among us on either “side of the aisle” cannot see the blessedness of working together to combat hunger, injustice, homelessness or some other social problem that moves your heart?
Finally, recall the first words of the risen Christ to his gathered disciples—“Peace be with you.” Clearly, peace is important and the Lord wants peace to reign. Be a peacemaker as befits the beloved child of God that you are! And may God bless all of us, in this country and in every country.