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Stories Seldom Heard Archive

Stories Seldom Heard

231st Edition

October 2018 - Matthew 5: 9


“Blessed are they who strive for peace and justice; they shall be called the sons and daughters of God.”

Can we be like drops of water

falling on the stone

Splashing, breaking

disbursing the air?


Weaker than the stone by far

but be aware

that as time goes by

the rock will wear away.


And the water comes again

And the water comes again! (1) 

Welcome to Stories Seldom Heard.  I would especially like to welcome those who participated in the Diocesan Pastoral Congress on the Laity, Salt Lake City, Utah.


Years ago I heard this song and it reminded me of the peacemaking process.  Peace and justice come slowly, but God’s promise will be fulfilled.  Peace and justice will come to the earth! 


The beatitudes are not an “other” world system.  They are to be lived now in this world.  Matthew writes them in the present tense and those who strive to live according to them receive a very important gift in their daily lives now.  We hear of this gift in the first word of each beatitude.  “Happy” or “Blessed” is the one who….  This is part of the mystery Matthew is trying to reveal to us.  Those who hear the Word of God and strive to practice it are “blessed” and “happy” now because they know they are acting with integrity. 


The beatitudes place before us a way of being in this world and a set of attitudes: a life style and a stance from which we view the world around us and our own situations. The more we quietly reflect on scripture and listen to God in prayer, the more our ears will hear.  Because the knowledge we gain from scripture and prayer is more than just information or memorizing passages, it will help us see life differently.  Our prayer and study will reshape our vision.  Beatitude people are both listeners of the Word and doers of the Word.  Both eyes and both ears must be open to the Word of God and to the world around us.


There are different ways to translate the seventh beatitude.  I prefer the following translation: “Blessed are those who strive for justice and peace; they shall be called sons and daughters of God.”  Change and transformation take time.  It’s a slow process like water dripping on stone.  The word “strive” has always been a reassuring word for me because it speaks of an intention, a desire to do something.  We don’t always act perfectly or complete a project without a flaw, especially when we are learning something new.  But as we study an issue and explore its possibilities we become more knowledgeable.  We “see” and “hear” in a new way and these insights slowly direct our actions. 


Happy are those who strive, who recognize that they/we don’t have all the answers.  Blessed are those/we who work at being peacemakers, trusting that God will direct their/our actions.  Our actions are like water dripping on a stone.  Each small and large act of justice and nonviolence slowly wears away the stones of hardness that we find within ourselves and in our society.


Recently in our town two young Muslim men, brothers, were murdered.  They owned a small Afghan restaurant that was gaining popularity.  The brothers were known to be gracious to everyone and the rumor was they served great Afghan cuisine.  So when the news of their death appeared in the newspaper people were shocked and horrified.  In the shadow of such a tragedy it is not hard to find compassionate ways to respond.  The clergy in the area were very attentive.  They committed themselves to preach at their weekend services on appreciation of and respect for diversity.  Many people from the city who didn’t know the family were present for the wake service.  The reflections of those who were present begged for religious and racial tolerance, acceptance and understanding.  Some people contributed money so that the bodies of the two young men could be buried in their homeland.  In the weeks that followed the funeral the members of the interfaith council began a study program.  They offered classes on the beliefs of the major religious traditions.


There is no one, correct or best way to respond compassionately to those who have been victims of violence.  Yet, each of us needs to find some way to be in solidarity with those who are treated unjustly.  Some people attend vigil services at the street corner or at the house where the violent act has taken place.  Other people pray for the family and/or send sympathy cards to family members.  Others have gotten more involved with their local neighborhood watch organizations.  We, in our convent, write the person’s name, date and place of the incident on an index card.  We place this card on our altar next to the crucifix.  These actions might be small steps, but each action hopefully brings about healing.  They also help us develop empathy for those who suffer and enable us to find creative nonviolent ways to respond.


As we look around our world and listen to the news it is easy to become discouraged.  No wonder Jesus says, “Blessed is the one who does not lose faith in me (Mt. 11:6).”    Sometimes we feel like Peter in the garden who wanted to raise his sword against the soldiers to protect Jesus.  Yet, we know that is not Jesus’ way.  “Those who live by the sword will die by the sword (Mt. 26:54).”   There are many ways to strive to be peacemakers.  We need to study and pray with scripture.  We also need to study and analyze critical situations in our society, so we will understand what fosters and supports violence.  Yet, according to Jesus seeing and hearing, studying and analyzing are not enough.   We also need to respond through acts of compassion and justice.    Peacemaking is both an interior and exterior process.  The water that drips on the rock is both interiorly and exteriorly transformative.  In other words, our prayer, discussions and analysis will awaken in us a new consciousness so that we might become more effective peacemakers.


Special thanks to Mary Ellen Green and Maria Hetherton who have helped in editing this article.  "Stories Seldom Heard" is a monthly article written by Sister Patricia Bruno, O.P.  Sister is a Dominican Sister of San Rafael, California.  This service is offered to the Christian community to enrich one's personal and spiritual life.  The articles can be used for individual or group reflection. 

If you would like to support this ministry, please send your contributions to:

Dominican Sisters of San Rafael

c/o Sister Patricia Bruno, O.P.,

2517 Pine Street, San Francisco, CA 94115                      Thank you.    

To make changes or remove your name from “Stories Seldom Heard” mailing list, please contact me at   Thank you. Bob McGrath

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