Peacemaking January 11, 2024

As I speak with people throughout the community, there is one thing everyone seems to agree about these days: 2024 is going to be a chaotic year. With turmoil and polarization at almost every level of human engagement, people are weary. Personally, communally, and globally, there is strife.

Through media, we are given an intimate view of war across the world—in real time, we see infants dug out from bombed out cities. Women and children exposed to unimaginable violence. Images of natural and human-caused trauma reach us daily. Honestly, I watch the news and weep.

In these days of stress, we bring our weary minds, hearts, and souls to worship—eager for peace. We yearn to root ourselves in God’s love that heals, reconciles, and recreates. “As a deer longs for flowing water, so my soul longs for you, O God.” (Psalm 42:1)

In his Christmas 2023 Message, Pope Francis spoke boldly about the realities of our world today. Prophetically, he named specific locations of violence and discord throughout the world, and he called upon God’s healing love and peace to touch these places. Powerfully, his prayer for peace called for concrete actions: Not just spiritual desires, he called upon people to take action to help, support, stabilize, protect, dialogue with, reconcile, heal, and respect all people. The prayer for peace is inherently a call to bold, compassionate action.

Pope Francis included our homeland in his prayer for peace. He stated, “May the Son of God…inspire political authorities and all persons of good will in the Americas to devise suitable ways to resolve social and political conflicts, to combat forms of poverty that offend the dignity of persons, to reduce inequality and to address the troubling phenomenon of migration movements.” Given the division and polarization in our county, this offers a concrete map for peace.

The Basilica of Saint Mary is committed to working for peace. It begins with prayer—rooting ourselves in the power of the Holy Spirit, embracing and being transformed by God’s unearned love and favor. It continues with action—compassionate, bold action.

As prayer unlocks this power in each of us, we all have something we can do. We all have a part to play. With our different gifts and life situations, we can make a difference, together.

We accompany, serve, defend, teach, and advocate for those in need. We listen to the voices of those who have been harmed in our community. We find the courage to be uncomfortable and vulnerable, opening our community to a diverse experience of God’s love.

We seek to surrender animosity or fear, looking for ways to share our thoughts and ideas with someone, while being empathetic to their suffering and anxiety. This involves active listening and understanding verbal and nonverbal communication cues. It is hard when someone is on the opposite side of a political or ecclesial divide. But here is where it is most important.

Let us gather in prayer to fill our spirit, heart, and mind. And let us go out and be bold, compassionate, active peacemakers. Our world is waiting.

Janice Andersen
Director of Christian Life