One of my all-time favorite songs is John Michael Talbot’s version of St. Francis’ peace prayer. Years ago, with pounding hearts, my wife and I sang it as a duet at our wedding Mass, to express some of the core values on which we want to build our marriage.
My mom, after recently surviving a grueling course of chemotherapy, asked us to reprise that song at a large party she threw to celebrate her gratitude for still being alive. She feels that she has survived for a reason, that there’s something more God wants her to do in this world, and “make me an instrument of your peace” articulated her wish to take this calling seriously.
Those were fitting words at celebrations of love and life. But such a song, such a prayer, is all the more needed in the troubled times we all are going through.
How can we become instruments of peace? Fear, anger, bluster, or revenge don’t overcome violence; they feed it—whether between people or nations. Only love will bring peace: a fierce, gentle love that gives us the courage to face suffering, a love whose power even death cannot defeat. As Christians, we claim this to be divine Love, embodied in Jesus: in his ministry, on the cross, and in the resurrection.
Opening ourselves to this fierce love through prayer, and then acting out of it—personally and in our public policies—is the only pathway to peace.