We have spent much of this week preparing for Anzac Day on Sunday, as we commemorate the ANZACs landing at Gallipoli. We have also had the opportunity to pray for wars still occurring across our world – and we have prayed for peace. In Ephesians 2:14, Jesus is described as 'our peace': he is the one who breaks down the walls of hostility that we build between each other as nations and individuals.
How to make peace
I recently thought of a story about a man who brought peace to a family through his selflessness and perspective. Sometimes when experiencing conflict with others, it is necessary to take a step back and look at the bigger picture in order to find a solution.
According to the story, there was a rich man who lived in the desert. You could tell how rich he was because of what he owned and especially how many camels belonged to him: he was so rich that he owned 17 camels.
He had led a peaceful and prosperous life and so when he was very old and near to death he wrote his will, explaining how he intended to leave his wealth to his only son, his grandson and his one nephew. The terms of the will were these: one half of his riches should go to his own son, one third should go to his grandchild and one ninth of his wealth should go to his nephew.
This seemed fair. Soon after this, the rich man died, but when it came time to dividing up the camels according to the will, the three beneficiaries ran into a problem!
- If half the camels were given to the son, then he should get eight-and-a-half camels, which would mean killing a camel!
- If a third of the camels were given to the grandson, that would mean again killing a camel so he could get five and two thirds!
- And when it came to the nephew, there was no way he could get his share unless another camel was killed.
The three of them became frustrated and soon got very angry with each other. They shouted and quarrelled and argued and even threatened to go to war over the camels. Secretly they began stockpiling their weapons and plotting their battle campaigns.
Nearby there lived a very poor man. You could tell he was very poor because he only had one camel. Although he was so poor and seemed to have no influence, he still felt he should do something to help. He wanted to stop war breaking out. He wanted to be a peacemaker. But what could he do?
He decided to offer his one and only camel into the rich man's inheritance to help sort out the problem. It was a huge sacrifice. The inheritance now consisted of 18 camels.
The three sat down and did the sums.
- Half of 18 would go to the son, so he took nine camels.
- One third of 18 would go to the grandson so he took six camels.
- And one ninth of 18 would go to the nephew, so he took two camels.
After each had taken his allotted number, to their great surprise there was one camel left over, so the poor man received his camel back! He had made peace by his willingness to give up all he had. It had made all the difference and he had not lost out in the end!
Prayer of Saint Francis
Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace;
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, the faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
And where there is sadness, joy.
Janine de Paiva
Junior School Chaplain
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