Fools and Peacemakers


It was around 4 pm on Thursday when I checked the global news and saw the words of Vladimir Putin’s invasion speech coming through minute by minute; I had just finished an overnight tramp, something I had done in-part to escape the overwhelmingness of the local and global situation.

I often check international news sites and so seeing devasting media coverage is normal, but I knew this was different.

It then hit me all at once that I was, through my computer screen, witnessing the beginning of a war.

Needless to say, I was horrified.

As I continued watching the events unfold, I was, in a rather unusual way, called to prayer.

My typical response to major events like this is to talk with people about it and eventually I will often remember ‘I should probably pray about this.’

But yesterday was different.

And as so, I responded to God. I made the sign of the cross, and asked God for peace, for the protection of the people of Ukraine, and to provide the world with an alternative to this violence.

I then took to Facebook and asked my friends to do the same, quoting Pope Paul VI who famously said: “No more war, war never again.”


Later that day it came to me in thought, maybe a divine thought, that God has already given us an alternative to this violence – Jesus.

And especially the cross.

The weakness of Jesus’ cross is the very anthesis of human violence.

It was then I remembered learning in biblical studies that Paul had called the message of the cross “foolishness.”

Admittedly, in a phone call with my brother discussing the Ukraine crisis, I felt like a fool when I restated my commitment to non-violence.

But that’s exactly why Paul said what he did; ‘in the way of the world’ responding to airstrikes, tanks and armed soldiers with more airstrikes, tanks and armed soldiers is the thing to do – in some sense, it’s what we’ve always done, and responding any other way would be foolish.

Peacemaking is about interrupting injustice without mirroring injustice, resisting oppressors without becoming oppressors.


But as Christians, as people, we cannot love our enemies as Jesus commands us to, and simultaneously prepare to kill them.

This is not the way of Jesus; this is not Christ-like.

And so, Jesus calls us to another way – what the theologian Walter Wink calls the ‘third way.’

But Jesus didn’t just call us this way, he lived it too.

The Prince of Peace scolded Peter as he resorted to violence saying to Peter, “Live by the sword, die by the sword.”

By accepting the cross, the Prince of Peace chose not to respond to violence with more violence, or sin with more sin.

Jesus chose to be a peacemaker. And yet we continue again and again to live by the sword and die by the sword.

Christ-like in the current Ukraine crisis

  • First, like Jesus, and as God called me to yesterday, we must pray. Pope Francis has called us to the “weakness of prayer” in response to this crisis, including a day of prayer and fasting for peace on Ash Wednesday.
  • Second, and again like Jesus, we must stand against the oppressive powers and with the oppressed. In other words, we must be in solidarity Ukraine.
  • Third, like Jesus on the cross, we must actively resist violence with non-violence. In other words, we must be peacemakers.

Being a peacemaker does not mean passivity.

Peacemaking involves the active resistance of violence, but not by playing by the same set of rules as violence.

The Christian pacifist Shane Claiborne writes that “Peacemaking is about interrupting injustice without mirroring injustice, resisting oppressors without becoming oppressors.”

How we do this?

We must turn again to prayer and ask God to show us.

As well as prayer we might also

  • Apply a negative screen to our investments in companies that might be even remotely associated with war.
  • Consider applying a positive screen to ethically safe peace-based investments.
  • Consider contributing to Aid to the Church in Need where we know all contributions are directly spent on the cause.
  • Protest outside the Russian Embassy in Wellington.
  • Write to the Russian Ambassador.


  • Tim O’Farrell is a Catholic committed to Jesus’ way of peace and non-violence. He is a master’s student at the National Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies, University of Otago.
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