For out of Zion shall go forth instruction, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. He shall judge between many peoples, and shall arbitrate between strong nations far away; they shall beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruning-hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more; but they shall all sit under their own vines and under their own fig trees, and no one shall make them afraid; for the mouth of the Lord of hosts has spoken. For all the peoples walk, each in the name of its god, but we will walk in the name of the Lord our God for ever and ever. —Micah 4:2b-5 (NRSV)
Dear sisters and brothers in Christ,
“Swords into ploughshares, spears into pruning-hooks” — this vision of the prophet Micah has inspired peacemakers for almost 3,000 years. The image of a blacksmith who transforms his weapons into farming tools has been invoked in many struggles. Many of them were costly: People who had peace in their hearts risked their lives to stop violence, fight injustice, and strive for reconciliation.
Peacemaking is hard work because, according to Micah, it seeks radical transformation: Our resources shall only be used to enhance life and not to bring death, no nation shall threaten others with war, and the whole world shall unlearn violence!
These words are very relevant today. People in situations of war— in Ukraine, in Myanmar, Sudan, Syria, Yemen, and many other places in the world —have known for years how costly peacemaking can be. But they also have experienced the blessings that God promises to those who seek peace.
Peacemaking can bring out the best in humanity. In many war situations, we see incredible courage, passion, and mutual support. People are committed to protecting their neighbourhoods, supporting refugees, and showing the world that justice and peace are living realities In Ukraine — strong enough to halt the forces of death, even if only for a moment. Those who engage in peacemaking know that what is at stake in a war is not just a strategic interest or a political position but the core principles of who we are as God’s children.
The promise of Micah is fulfilled in the crucifixion, death, and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. The Easter victory over death and the forces of evil — accompanied by the promise of grace and eternal life — is the most precious divine gift to us. But at the same time, it is also a calling. The gospels report that Jesus, after the resurrection, called upon the disciples to return to Galilee (Matthew 28:10). Galilee was the place of Jesus’ ministry. Here he brought good news to the poor, proclaimed the release of the captives, the recovery of the sight to the blind, and freedom for the oppressed (Luke 4:18). In sending the disciples to Galilee, Jesus called them to continue his ministry and promised that in their work for justice, peace, and reconciliation they would see him alive.
In Jesus’ call and the promise, we can gratefully find the hope and courage to walk in the name of the Lord our God and be active peacemakers in this world, whether it be in conflicts as violent as war or as subtle as an abusive word overheard.
Working for justice, peace, and reconciliation is a divine calling, one in which all of us, each in our own contexts as well as in solidarity and support around the world, must be actively involved.
These are difficult days for many, but through the promise of the resurrection we know with whom we must walk, working hard to beat swords into ploughshares that nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.
Blessings to you this Holy Week,
Hanns Lessing, Philip Vinod Peacock, Phil Tanis
Collegial General Secretariat
Image: Jessica Lewis/Unsplash