SHALOM x 3! That has become one of my favorite benedictions; I often use it to close letters and e-mails. I don’t think anyone has ever asked me why, but I’m going to explain anyway.
SHALOM is the Hebrew word for peace. Actually, it means a great deal more. Perhaps one could say it represents the good life or a together life. It could be similar to Jesus saying he came that we might “have life and have it more abundantly.”
Salaam, I think, is the same word in Arabic. The word is used in a greeting that says, “Peace be to you,” for which the usual response is “And to you, peace.” I suppose it ends up being a lot like “Good morning,” “Have a nice day,” or “God be with ye,” which has been condensed into “good-bye.”
Christians are supposed to be able to give each of their Christian brothers and sisters “shalom” or “the peace” before they are allowed to celebrate communion. This is considerably more than the idea of serenity or tranquility. Peace is the condition of no war. Giving the peace is a way of saying, “We have no quarrel or unresolved dispute between us.” It takes peace in order for their to be love between people and unity in the Body of Christ, the Church.
Since we live in a world of conflict, globally and personally, most of us could stand a little more peace. Frankly, calm and contentment are pretty hard to find if our relationships are in an uproar. Hostility, strife, and alienation are commonplace at home, at work, in the neighborhood, even at play. We know much more about fighting than about how to get along with other people.
Our conflict is not only with other people but with God. As a result, we are alienated from God, from the people around us, and from our own selves. Reconciliation is the end product of peacemaking, and I am a peacemaker, in this sense. My wish and my fervent prayer are that people will discover how to be reconciled in all three areas and to have peace with God, with other, and within—SHALOM x 3.
God exists in 3 persons—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Humans are physical body, soul or life force, and spirit (the breath of God). To be healthy, we need to have strong connections with God, with other people, and within our own psyche (soul). SHALOM times three, likewise, is a way of saying it takes all three to be whole.
How important is any of this to you? Well, the Psalmist says, “Seek peace and pursue it,” and Peter reaffirms it in one of his letters. Paul says, “Be reconciled to God,” and tells us that He gave us His ministry of reconciliation. All of this finds focus in one of the Beatitudes: “Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the sons of God.” Since sons are children, and children of God is just another way of saying Christian, I believe that the blessing of peacemakers is to be recognized as Christians. A genuine Christian will be a peacemaker in all three ways—bringing people to peace with God, working to reconcile broken human relationships, and working to develop his or her own inner peace. That is my mission and my calling. I hope I may help others learn the blessing of full, triple SHALOM peace and the blessing of being peacemakers.
SHALOM x 3!
Post Script, added August 3, 2012 – For some time now, I’ve been using CHARIS & SHALOM x 3, or Grace & Peace x 3. I guess I need to update this.