Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,
so that you may be children of God in heaven.
Jesus offered the radical invitation to love one another without condition – to love those who are different from ourselves. He gave the startling instruction for us to love our enemies, to turn the other cheek, to trust in the way of peace, and to be especially concerned for those most in need. In a world with so many examples of hatred, violence, war, and unnecessary death, this seems unrealistic at best. It makes no sense. Yet, Jesus proclaimed a radical message about God’s love for all of us. Can we, as followers of Jesus today, be faithful to this call, or will the vision of active loving nonviolence get lost and forgotten even by people who call themselves Christian?
Adapted from Education for Justice
May I learn the way of nonviolence.
What does the Christian vision of active nonviolence say to you? In the efforts to limit gun violence? In the work of peace organizations? in the desire to welcome immigrants? In efforts to slow climate change? Is this practical and realistic? Do you believe it should be our response? What “spirituality” will make it possible to live this way?
You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic let him have your cloak as well. And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you.“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your God who is in heaven. For God makes the sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your relatives what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same?
Wars shatter so many lives. I think especially of children robbed of their childhood.
It is to be hoped that hatred and violence will not triumph in people’s hearts, especially among those who are struggling for justice, and that all people will grow in the spirit of peace and forgiveness.
Pope John Paul II
At the center of non-violence stands the principle of love.
Martin Luther King, Jr.
Non-violence is not a garment to be put on and off at will. Its seat is in the heart, and it must be an inseparable part of our being.
That’s all nonviolence is – organized love.
One is called to live nonviolently, even if the change one works for seems impossible. It may or may not be possible to turn the US around through nonviolent revolution. But one thing favors such an attempt: the total inability of violence to change anything for the better.
The greatest challenge of the day is: How to bring about a revolution of the heart, a revolution which has to start with each one of us.
Lest my way of life sounds puritanical or austere, I always emphasize that in the long run one can’t satisfactorily say no to war, violence, and injustice unless one is simultaneously saying yes to life, love and laughter.
The person who turns an enemy into a friend has accomplished the work of God
Abot d’Rabbi Nathan
Peace cannot be built on exclusivism, absolutism, and intolerance. But neither can it be built on vague liberal slogans and pious programs gestated in the smoke of confabulation. There can be no peace on earth without the kind of inner change that brings man back to his “right mind.