In the Bible we find a wonderful story of reconciliation between two brothers, Jacob and Esau (Genesis 33). For a long time they lived separated from each other due to Esau’s anger and Jacob’s fear. Jacob, influenced by his mother, Rebekah, stole the blessing that by law belonged to his brother.
Esau’s anger and frustration was so great that one day he said, “The days of mourning for my father are near; then I will kill my brother Jacob” (27:41).
The reconciliation between Jacob and Esau didn’t happen by chance. Jacob eventually recognized his wrongdoing and repented. But before his encounter with Esau, Jacob sent messengers to his brother on several occasions to speak with him and prepare for the reunion. The work of these reconcilers who went ahead of Jacob was fundamental, offering gifts of livestock to allay Esau’s anger (32:1-20).
Finally, Jacob abased himself before his brother and carefully presented his wives and children; they were part of the process of reconciliation too (33:1-8).
As Romans 15:4 says, everything written in the past is intended to teach us. I found out how the story of Jacob and Esau is like a story in my own family and how peacemakers are needed to bring reconciliation.
In the seventies, my grandfather Francisco had a strong conflict with his older sister, whom we affectionately called Aunt Lola. He did not accept the relationship she had with the man she finally married and who became Uncle René.
My grandfather and his sister were close. When my grandfather was born, their mother passed away, so both lived with their father. Not long after, their father married again and had sixteen more children. Since my grandfather and his sister were the oldest, they were forced to take care of their siblings, born year after year.
The family’s living conditions and poverty forced them to find their own means to survive. So my grandfather and his sister left their home in the small town where they had been born and moved to Mexico City. They were only 13 and 11 years old, respectively.
It is probably because of this experience that their relationship as brother and sister was so strong. My grandfather thought that his sister would never marry. When she did, he became so frustrated, he told her that from that moment on she was no longer his sister.
Aunt Lola emigrated with her husband to New York. After thirty years, then old and retired, they returned to Mexico with the intention of seeing my grandfather at least once more before he died.
The encounter in Monterrey, Mexico, was something that marked my life and the life of my whole family. My aunt and grandfather both stared into each other’s eyes, as if remembering their childhood, as if they were asking for forgiveness and forgiving each other. Not being able to say a single word, they merged into an endearing, long hug. I felt as if time had stopped. And in that moment, I understood what reconciliation means and what leads up to it.
As with Jacob and Esau, this reunion didn’t happen by chance. The whole family got involved, talking with both parties about the need to meet at least once before they died, since they were already older. We talked with them separately, invested time to persuade them, encouraged them to overcome the constant fear of rejection, exhorted them to overcome pride, and promised we’d be with them throughout the reconciliation process.
In the end, the family felt that even if the main objective were not achieved, it would have been worth the effort to move toward reconciliation.
These two stories — Jacob and Esau and my own family — tell us about the valuable work of peacemakers. Without them, the goal of reconciliation would not have been achieved. For that reason, the Bible talks about reconciliation as a ministry — within families and among those outside the faith.
We live in a world of broken human relationships because of selfishness, arrogance, and petty differences. Life evaporates like water. As time goes by, people continue to live under the influence of anger, separation, and pain. How much reconciliation is needed among these broken people!
But that’s not the most important issue. The main reconciliation that human beings need is with God. All other relationships depend on this one. Even in this, peacemakers are needed to reach those who don’t know Christ. The Bible says, “All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation” (2 Corinthians 5:18).
This is not just a ministry of the pastor but of all believers. Actively participating in the great task of reconciliation between God and humanity represents the true medicine that sick people need due to sin. Human beings cannot heal themselves because they don’t realize they’re separated from God.
Peacemakers have a message to share: Jesus, the great reconciler of humanity. This is what the apostle Paul says: “God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation” (v. 19).
The extraordinary work that Christ has done, and to which we all are called, produces wonderful gratification. It is about restoring what has been broken, recovering what was lost, and redeeming what was condemned. These are not minor things, nor things that just anyone can do, but only those who have been reconciled to God as Christians: “We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God” (2 Corinthians 5:20).
Let’s take our calling seriously.