Fellow Passengers: This week’s Pastoral Passage* (Ephesians 2:17-22) transports me to Markulla Center for Ethics at Santa Clara University, which bills itself as The Jesuit University in Silicon Valley. The Center provides a wide range of studies, including business ethics, character education, bioethics, and government ethics. They also provide a curriculum of study around the biographies of peacemakers, called “Architects of Peace,” with a gallery of photographs, essays, and lesson plans on what we can learn from these 70 people who have made tremendous impacts for peace in the world. One of these architects is Mother Teresa, who would have turned 101 today. She began her work in India in 1928, founded her order, the Missionaries of Charity in 1950, and became a world-wide symbol for a life dedicated to the poor. Before her death in 1997, Mother Teresa wrote an original essay for the Architects for Peace project. In the short essay she described some of the building blocks of her work for peace: Let us not use bombs and guns to overcome the world. Let us use love and compassion. . . If we truly want peace in the world, let us begin by loving one another in our own families. . . Today, nations put too much effort and money into defending their borders. They know very little about the poverty and the suffering that exist in the countries where those bordering on destitution live.
The Apostle Paul’s letter to the Ephesian church could very well be an essay in the Architects for Peace project. He describes the foundations of peace seen in the work of the apostles and prophets of old, with the cornerstone of peace being Jesus Christ himself. The entire structure of the building, Paul says, emerges from this cornerstone, with each building block contributing to the construction of a dwelling place for God, a holy temple. And it is a building that would pass the ADA requirements for accessibility, for Paul says this building provides access to all, the near and the far. In addition, you won’t find any “No Trespassing” or “Members Only” signs on this building, either, or guards barring the door, for Paul says that the strangers and aliens of this world have equal citizenship rights with the saints; all are members of the household of God.
For Mother Teresa, the blueprints for building peace were quite simple. She didn’t need a CADD to help generate the plans to meet the specs of a complicated set of codes. In her essay, she laid out the framework necessary to a life that builds peace: The fruit of silence is prayer; the fruit of prayer is faith; the fruit of faith is love; the fruit of love is service; the fruit of service is peace. And for her loving meant seeing the image of God in the other, especially in the poor. She questioned: If everyone could see the image of God in his neighbor, do you think we would still need tanks and generals? She didn’t judge others, she only invited them to join in the work. She once said, I never judge anyone because it doesn’t allow me the time to love them. Sounds a lot like Jesus to me. And with Jesus as the cornerstone of our dwelling place of peace, I’d say that Mother Teresa is surely one of the load bearing walls.
How about you? Where does this Pastoral Passage take you on your journey of faith? Feel free to comment.