“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.”
— Matthew 5:9
In A.D. 989 the once powerful Carolingian Empire lay in ruins. The collapse of central authority had led to increased violence. Bloody feuds and local wars broke out in much of the area where France is today. That’s when local church ministers proclaimed “Pax Dei” (“The Peace of God”), granting shelter from violence for people who could not defend themselves—peasants, clergy, and many women and children. Pax Dei prohibited nobles and their guards from invading churches, burning houses, beating people, and so on. If anyone broke those rules, they could be excommunicated from the church.
From a humble beginning, this church-led movement spread through Western Europe, surviving in some form for about 200 years. Today it is considered one of the first mass peace movements.
Nearly a thousand years before Pax Dei, Jesus preached “Blessed are the peacemakers” to the shock and disbelief of his listeners. In those days many of his fellow Jews dreamed of rebelling against the ruthless occupation of the Roman Empire.
The call to make peace was difficult in Jesus’ day and in the Middle Ages, and it is still difficult today. Yet Jesus inspires his faithful followers to seek peace, for that is God’s way of restoring us to himself and making us his children.
Heavenly Father, thank you for making us your sons and daughters. Inspire us to become your peacemakers. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.