February 23

Reflection

Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,
so that you may be children of God in heaven.
Matthew 5:44

Jesus proclaimed a radical message about God’s love for all of us. He offered a radical invitation to love one another without condition – to love those who are different from ourselves. In a world with so many examples of hatred, violence, war, and unnecessary death, Jesus appeared with the startling call 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.This makes no sense to people living in the culture of the United States. 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

Prayer

May I learn the way of nonviolence.

Action

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?

Suggested Reading

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?  
Matthew 5:38-48

Wars shatter so many lives. I think especially of children robbed of their childhood.
Pope Francis

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.
Mahatma Gandhi

Non-violence leads to the highest ethics, which is the goal of all evolution. Until we stop harming all other living beings, we are still savages.
Thomas A. Edison

One individual can begin a movement that turns the tide of history. Martin Luther King in the civil rights movement, Mohandas Ganhi in India, Nelson Mandela in South Africa are examples of people standing up with courage and non-violence to bring about needed changes.
Jack Canfield

To say that a being who is sentient has no interest in continuing to live is like saying that a being with eyes has no interest in continuing to see. Death—however “humane”—is a harm for humans and nonhumans alike.
Gary L. Francione

I believe much trouble and blood would be saved if we opened our hearts more.
Chief Joseph 

Islam teaches tolerance, not hatred; universal brotherhood, not enmity; peace, and not violence.
Parwez Musharraf

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.
Thomas Merton

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