Violence transforming mission

Be a Peacemaker

Part 2 of 5

“Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the children of God”  – Matthew 5:9

There is a story of a monk, Telemachus, from southern France, who went to Rome to take in the splendors of the Holy City. When he arrived, he was caught up in the crowd going to the Coliseum. He wasn’t aware of all that was involved in the entertainment of the day. Soon, however, he soon realized what was going to happen when the gladiators took their places on the field. They drew their weapons, waved them at Caesar, then called out, “We who are about to die salute thee!”

Read Part 1 – A Response to Violence

At that moment, the young monk realized that the gladiators were about to fight each other to their death. He called out in the middle of the roaring crowd, “Stop! Stop! In the name of Jesus, stop!”

His voice could not be heard above the roar of the crowd. He rushed down the aisle to the barrier that separated the cheering crowd from the strutting gladiators and again yelled out, “In the name of Jesus, stop!” Still no one noticed him nor heard his pleas.

He jumped over the barrier and ran out into the middle of the Coliseum floor.  He stood between two of the gladiators and yelled at each of them, “In the name of Jesus, stop!”

The two gladiators ignored his words.  The spectators of the gladiator fighting grew indignant with the monk for interrupting their sport. What did they do? They stoned the peacemaker to death.

Caesar was informed of the death of Telemachus. When he learned that Telemachus was now numbered among the victorious martyrs, Caesar put an end to the sport.¹

From that day on, there would be no more gladiator fights in Rome’s Coliseum. An end to the brutality and the death all took place because one person was willing to pay the price and give his life.

The Price to Stop the Violence

There is a price to be paid if we are to stop the violence. There is a price to be paid if our cultural toward violence is to change. Let’s face it, no one wants the violence that took place in Orlando. How many of us of us are willing to pay the price to stop it from happening again?

From my perspective, many of us stand at a distance and say:

“Someone needs to do something.”

“Congress needs to do something.”

“The House or Senate needs to do something.”

“There need to be laws that restrict or better regulate guns, the purchase of guns, and the use of guns.”

“Someone needs to do something.”

Yet, when someone steps forward to do something, we grow indignant. We say, “We have our rights.”  “You can’t take away our rights.”  The truth is you are right. And nothing changes. The outrage fades until another act of horrible violence shocks us back into the reality of our inactivity.

With that being said, our words have not been enough. Feelings, whether rooted in compassion or outrage have not been enough. Even standing in our pulpits and shouting, “In the name of Jesus, stop!” has not been enough. Nothing changes. Not because we don’t want it to change. Nothing changes because we are not willing to pay the price for the change.

Jesus taught, “Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the children of God.”

What does it mean to be a peacemaker in regard to this violence? How do we become peacemakers who bring about the positive actions that bring about the redemption and transformation of our relationships, our communities, and the world?

-Tim Bias

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  1. Story adapted from Let Me Tell You A Story: Life Lessons from Unexpected Places and Unlikely People, by Tony Campolo and Favorite Monks: Telemachus: The Monk Who Ended The Coliseum Games, by Monk Preston.
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