The Benedictines strive for peace. Because living close together and not having peace is unbearable. What are the elements that help us live in peace? St. Benedict says in his Rule: “If you have a dispute with someone, make peace with him before the sun goes down.” (RB 4:73) It is important to address conflicts as soon as possible and not to allow the problems to accumulate. They are like a poison or become into a tension that one day explodes. That’s why we ask ourselves every night: What did I do wrong? With whom do I need to seek reconciliation? In the morning we celebrate Mass. Jesus warns us to lay down the gifts and not to celebrate if there is not yet peace with a brother or sister (Matthew 5:23-24).
Part of making peace is to forgive. May brothers and sisters don’t always treat me well. But just as they make mistakes, so do I. That is human. In order to continue to live together, I have to forgive them. If I don’t do that, not only the relationship suffers, but also I myself: I am not at peace. We can forgive each other because we know that God constantly forgives us. He forgave us first. Sometimes conflicts are so old, so deep, so complicated that we can’t just forgive in the evening. But we can pray that one day God will give us the gift to be able to forgive. It is a grace to be able to forgive.
Peace cannot not be achieved without justice. “Justice and peace will kiss each other,” says the Psalm (85:11). Reconciliation cannot happen without first looking at the facts and at the truth. This is another way to peace: to have the courage to look at the truth and to disclose it. To confront oneself and – when the time is right – the other person with the truth. Correcting each other (correctio fraterna) in addressing each other’s problems. As paradoxical as it sounds: Not avoiding conflict is also a way to peace. Otherwise, there will be a false peace, as Benedict puts it (RB 4:25). In any case, peace is a great gift from God. We should pray for it. Especially in these days.
Dear God, listen to the cry of so many people suffering from war. Look at situations where hope is lost. Help us to strive for peace in our small world, which I can influence. Give me inner peace so that it radiates from me to those around me. Let me stay close to you, because you are the source of faith, hope, love, and peace. Amen.