The monks of Tibhirine were dedicated to making peace. They were indiscriminate peacemakers.

They sought to make peace among their neighbours and their violent oppressors. They sought peace among the government troops who felt called to defend them by the use of arms.

As Brother Christian explained in describing their reaction to the invasion of their monastery on Christmas Eve,

We had to resist the violence.

But how do powerless monks “resist the violence”? What might it mean for anyone to resist violence in the face of the tragic breakdown that so often tears the fabric of the human community?

Should we protest and march against injustice? Are we called to take up arms in defense of the powerless?

For Brother Christian, the response to violence was more subtle and more difficult. Brother Christian said to his brothers,

And day after day, I…. I think each of us discovered
that to which Jesus Christ beckons us.
It’s … to be born.
Our identities as men go from one birth to another.
And from birth to birth, we’ll each end up
bringing to the world the child of God that we are.

“Jesus Christ beckons us” to manifest in form that which “we are”. We are children of God. When we find our “identities” in that fundamental reality, we will naturally and spontaneously live as peacemakers in the midst of turmoil and unrest. Peacemaking is not confined to any particular activity. We are peacemakers because our lives are a sign and embodiment of the peace that resists violence and that resides in our hearts as beings created in the image of the one who came into the world as “the prince of peace. / Sidna Aissa/ Jesus”.

Christmas is the season of peace. It is a time when we try to lay down our arms and find ways, even if just for a moment, to live as peacemakers.

We will be peacemakers by being who we are, more than by what we say or even what we do. Who we truly are is seen in the person of Jesus. The more our lives align with Jesus, the more deeply and truly human we will be and the more fully we will live as peacemakers in the world.

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