Watch the entire video. You may watch each segment again before engaging these or other questions. (taken from practicingourfaith.org)
1. Peacemaking begins with the body of Christ (0:00-1:22)
Mary Emily says that God subverted every human expectation of how God would bring peace to earth by coming as a vulnerable, dependent infant, the baby Jesus.
- How does a baby “disarm” you? How does a baby undermine or turn upside down our notions of power? our ideas about God?
- Why would God choose to be weak and vulnerable?
The Hebrew word shalom, often translated “peace,” is more than a ceasefire or a feeling of contentment, Mary Emily says. Where there is true shalom people have “access to the food they need, the health care they need, the opportunity for just relationships with one another, with God, and with the earth . . . Shalom is God’s vision for the universe.”
- What images come to your mind when you hear the word “peace”?
- List a variety of ways we use the word “peace” in personal or national discourse.
- How does God’s shalom fit, counter, subvert, or expand each of these meanings?
Mary Emily likens “daily acts of peacemaking” to the pinch of yeast that a woman puts into a bowl of flour (see Matthew 13:33); it has the power to leaven the whole batch. She mentions three such seemingly small acts: choosing not to say what we might have said, not sending the email that might have damaged a relationship, and not retaliating when we are provoked.
- Add to her list your own examples of small acts and choices that proved to have the power of the “yeast” of peacemaking.
- Think of the times when you or others did not choose small acts of peacemaking and imagine what other choices might have prevented ruptures or violence.
God is “hidden” among us under signs of weakness, says Mary Emily (see I Corinthians 1:27-28). When have you encountered the power and beauty of God hidden in what the world calls weak or ugly or lowly? How might you live more attentively to God’s presence in these unlikely places and people and situations?
5. We are Not Afraid: Read 1 John 4:13-21
Mary Emily speaks about our “idolatry of fear.” We make fear a god when it energizes and shapes our whole lives. Violence becomes our god when we trust it to save us.
- When has fear held you captive? When have you placed your trust in violence?
- When has fear and violence become the “false god” of a people or a nation?
- What has the power to subvert fear in your life?
- How might “choosing to be vulnerable,” choosing to love, even to the point of having our hearts broken, be the “yeast of peacemaking” in the face of fear?
A Prayer for Peace from St. Francis of Assisi