Consider these questions. (You don’t have to write an essay, but just think through what your answers might be.)
- Pilate asked Jesus ‘what is truth?’ What answer would Jesus give if Pilate asked him ‘what is peace?’ What answer would you give? Pilate?
Read through Matthew 5:9-10 (either alone or as a group). As you read, look at the notes you made when you read the Beatitudes during the first week:
- !! for that which makes you think;
- those things you agree with, or approve of;
- those things you find difficult to believe or understand;
- ?? those things which require you to go a little bit further.
Read this story of the Desert Fathers:
- There were three friends who were eager workers, and one of them chose to devote himself to making peace between people who were fighting, in accordance with ‘Blessed are the peacemakers’. The second chose to visit the sick. The third went off to live in tranquillity in the desert. The first toiled away at the quarrels of men, but could not resolve them all, and so, in discouragement, went to the one who was looking after the sick, and he found him flagging too, not succeeding in fulfilling the commandment. So the two of them agreed to go and visit the one who was living in the desert. They told him their difficulties and asked him to tell them what he had been able to do. He was silent for a time, then he poured water into a bowl and said to them, ‘Look at the water.’ It was all turbulent. A little later he told them to look at it again, and see how the water had settled down. When they looked at it, they saw their own faces as in a mirror. Then he said to them, ‘In the same way a man who is living in the midst of men does not see his own sins because of all the disturbance, but if he becomes tranquil, especially in the desert, then he can see his own shortcomings.’ (Retold by Simon Tugwell)
Can you answer these questions?
- Why is peacemaking so important to God?
- What do you make of the story of the Desert Fathers? Whose part would you take?
- How and where could you ‘make peace’?
- Look at Jesus’s ‘cleansing the temple’ in Matthew 21:10-16. Is Jesus a peacemaker here?
Read this passage:
- Persecution is an embarrassment to Western Christians; or rather, the lack of it is. There is so much in the scriptures that prepares the disciples for a rough ride, for suffering and pain in this world, that when it does not happen we are thrown by the experience. Are we simply not worth persecuting, we wonder? (Robert Warren, Living Well, 1988))
- Are we worth persecuting?
- How do we discern when hostility is ‘persecution’ and when it is deserved censure?
- What one thing might God be calling you to do that goes against the flow?
- How can we respond to the sufferings of persecuted Christians elsewhere in the world?
Vangelis : A Way – from the album ‘Heaven and Hell’ (1975); Evangelos Odysseas Papathanassiou (b.1943)
Vangelis, most famous in this country for his score for Chariots of Fire, is a Greek-born electronic and classical composer. Although recently working in an orchestral medium, his early characteristic albums consist of elaborately recorded layers of keyboards, treated synthesisers and “soundscapes” that, with a finely developed sense of melody and mood, work supremely well with applied visuals: hence his popularity with film makers. A Way is the final movement from his early concept album, Heaven and Hell (released in 1975) which resolves the conflict and turmoil of the earlier themes.
What music would you normally choose to listen to for a peaceful time? What other art forms bring you or others peace?