We are all very good at identifying those areas in life where something is not fair but we are not always as good at recognising where we might not be acting justly towards others. Our motivation for responding to situations of social injustice can arise out of a sense of anger at what has occurred or out of love for people. Over the weekend, a commentator on Radio National reflected that Stalin, in using Karl Marx’s writing, responded with anger against the privileged and wealthy, rather than a love for people as a whole. We see around the world, in our community and in our families’ different people’s response to injustice. Where anger is the driver there is a desire to crush or push down the oppressor. Where love is the motivator there is a desire to lift up and to bring people into a lighter way of living.
The transformative lifting and bringing people into a better way of being connects to the origin of the word peace. The word peace has its origins in the Jewish word ‘Shalom’. Today we would often think of peace in terms of a personal sense of calm and restfulness. Shalom, in the Jewish tradition, has a broader meaning in terms of wholeness, both at a personal and relational level. The Prayer of St Francis has this transformational focus of bringing people from light into dark. In those moments where we may be frustrated with others or ourselves over times of injustice, the Prayer of St Francis can help us to centre our thoughts as we pray for God’s help to respond in a way that has love as its heart and lifts all people.
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace;
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood, as to understand;
to be loved, as to love;
for it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.