By Debbie Shelley

The Catholic Commentator 

Peacemakers are God’s agents dispensing love, mercy, compassion and forgiveness to make the world as God intended it to be, according to Father Charles Atuah MSP, pastor of St. Catherine of Siena Church in Donalsonville, in speaking about the seventh beatitude given by Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount.

“God is full of love,” said Father Atuah. “You cannot speak about peace if there is no love. Love is the foundation upon which peace stands. 

“God loved the world from the beginning. When he created our first parents he put them in the Garden of Eden. That was a place of peace, joy and harmony. They were at peace. There were not problems until ‘the sin.’ When our first parents sinned, they lost their peace, they lost everything, in the garden.” 

Crisis then entered the world, Father Atuah noted. When the people cried out in their misery, it touched God’s heart. 

“He said, ‘Even though I did not put them in this situation I need to help them and repair the damage they have caused. And so God decided to restore peace to man and he brought the good news through the Messiah.” 

Reading Isaiah 9:6-7, Father Atuah said, “For a child is born to us, a son is given to us; upon his shoulder dominion rests. They named him Wonder-Counselor, God-Hero, Father-Forever, Prince of Peace. 

“Prince of Peace,” Father Atuah rolled out. “Wow!” 

He noted, “From the beginning God knew what man needs most. God came down to us chronologically as a man with peace.” 

“That’s why whenever we lose our peace we find ourselves in crisis. We are falling to pieces,” said Father Atuah. “Because God wants us to have peace. He wants us to work in collaboration with him and serve. He made us his agents in dispensing his peace.” 

He said that is why in the beatitudes, Jesus called peacemakers children of God. 

“It means God himself is peace and if we are living the life of God then our salvation is assured, he said.” 

“Then, added Father Atuah, smiling and sweeping his hands outward, “We go home to be with our maker and we will have peace in full. Living a life of peace and working for peace is indeed a passport to heaven.” 

When trying to restore peace, people may try to bypass God’s missions and the gifts that he has given them and put on a temporary “Band-Aid” application that doesn’t get to the heart of the matter. The answers are found in the heart, according to Father Atuah.
“If we do not have it in our heart it is cosmetic, it doesn’t last,” said Father Atuah. “Things calm down, but as soon as people lose the value of the gift (from God) we’re back to square one. The trouble resumes, the crisis comes back.” 

“It must come from within the persons themselves,” said Father Atua, tapping on his heart. “We can only get it when we align ourselves with him.” 

The best resource manual concerning peace includes the Scriptures, because in it people read about the message of peace coming from God and the people he has used in salvation history as agents of peace, said Father Atuah. 

One of those agents was the prophet Jeremiah, he said. His story highlights the importance of telling and listening to the truth to bring peace. God told Jeremiah to tell King Zedekiah that the king of Babylon would attack Jerusalem and everyone that remained in it would be killed. When King Zedekiah called Jeremiah in and listened to him, there was peace for both. But when King Hezekiah and some of the nobles remained it did not go well for them, said Father Atuah. 

There are also stories about peace in the midst of the storm. Even as King Saul raged in jealousy over David before he became king, God “wrote straight with crooked lines” by forging a bond of peace and friendship between David and King Saul’s son, Jonathan, said Father Atuah. 

St. Paul also wrote about peace, said Father Atuah. In writing “Rules for the New Life” in the book of Ephesians, St. Paul wrote, “All bitterness, fury, anger, shouting, and reviling must be removed from you, along with all malice.” 

In a time when there was dissension about what was “clean” and “not clean” to eat, St. Paul wrote to “welcome anyone who is weak in faith, but not for dispute over opinions.” He also told them to “not judge one another” and talk and relate to them in a way they feel appreciated. 

“We can look at the whole ministry of St. Paul and how he endured suffering for the sake of the kingdom of God,” said Father Atuah. 

He further noted that the New Testament is dedicated to Jesus’ mission to bring peace. 

Father Atuah encouraged people to also follow the example of the saints and martyrs because they promoted and worked for peace.

Present day people who are examples of peacemakers include Immaculée Ilibagiza, a survivor of the Rwandan Genocide, Father Atuah said. 

For 91 days, Ilibagiza and seven other women hid in a 3 foot x 4 foot bathroom. 

After the genocide, Ilibagiza, whose entire family was brutally murdered, came face-to-face with the man who killed her mother and one of her brothers and she forgave him.

Father Atuah, who belongs to a society founded in Nigeria, also pointed to fellow priest Stephen Ojapah MSP as a source of inspiration in promoting peace. Only a few years into the priesthood, Father Ojapah is working to create harmony among Muslims and Christians as the director of dialogue and ecumenism in the Diocese of Sokoto in Nigeria. Father Atuah proudly showed an article and photo about a meeting between Father Ojapah and monarchs from Zamfara State to look for ways to ensure peace and justice as a means to checkmating incessant killings in the state. 

“He’s moving mountains and he’s a young priest. And his life is endangered, but he is not afraid and is at peace because he is doing the will of God,” beamed Father Atuah.