January 20

Martin Luther King, Jr
Reflection

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is regarded as one of the greatest nonviolent leaders in world history. Drawing inspiration from his Christian faith and the teachings of Mahatma Gandhi, he led a nonviolent movement in the late 1950’s and ‘60s to achieve legal equality for African-Americans in the United States.Martin Luther King,Jr. used the power of nonviolent resistance, protests, grassroots organizing, and civil disobedience to achieve seemingly-impossible goals. He went on to lead similar campaigns against poverty and international conflict, always maintaining fidelity to his principles that men and women everywhere, regardless of color or creed, are equal members of the human family. In 1964, at 35 years old, Martin Luther King, Jr. became the youngest person yet to win the Nobel Peace Prize.

Martin Luther King, Jr had the courage to speak of compassion in the face of hate, to preach love in a time of fear, and to call for reconciliation and peace in a time of war. He had a vision that extended beyond injustice and oppression to dignity and unity. He spoke a message that was discomforting and his call to change shook the foundations of his society. Dr. King raised his voice in truth and called for justice; he dared to risk nonviolent action; he tried to change the social order. The price of that was his life. Yet, today, like the prophets who went before him, his words endure and his dream lives.

Prayer

O God, fill us with the spirit of truth, justice and peace. Give us the courage to “act justly, love tenderly and walk humbly” in your name.

Action

How can help to bring Dr. King’s dream to life? Where do you see renewed opposition to it? In what small ways are you called to be non-violent and all inclusive?

Suggested Reading

On hearing it, many of his disciples said, “This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?” Aware that his disciples were grumbling about this, Jesus said to them, “Does this offend you? …From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.
John 6:60-71 

What this world needs most right now is a new generation of prophets. The problem is that we have lost all respect for them. In fact, we may not even recognize them when we see them… How little we understand the role of gospel critique in a world where people expect to talk religion but not to do it, who will define religion but do not want to steer by it, who will argue religion but do not want to apply it to the here and now, to the this and that, to modern life as well as to ancient myth.
Joan Chittister,OSB

I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. That is why right, temporarily defeated, is stronger than evil triumphant.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

America, I don’t plan to let you rest until that day comes into being when all God’s children will be respected, and everyone will respect the dignity of human personality.  America, I don’t plan to allow you to rest until from every city hall in this country, justice will roll down like the waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.  America, I don’t plan to let you rest until from every state house…men/women will sit in the eat who will do justly, will love mercy. America, I don’t plan to let you rest until you live out that ‘all are created equal and endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights.’ America, I don’t plan to let you rest until you believe what you have read in your Bible, that out of one blood God made all people to dwell upon the face of the earth.
Beyond Vietnam, Martin Luther King, Jr

We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality tied in a single garment of destiny.
Letters From a Birmingham Jail, Martin Luther King, Jr.

A nation that continues to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.
Martin Luther King, Jr.

Hatred and bitterness can never cure the disease of fear, only love can do that. Hatred paralyzes life, love releases it. Hatred confuses life, love harmonizes it. Hatred darkens life, love illumines it.
Martin Luther King, Jr.

I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.
Martin Luther King, Jr.

Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.
Martin Luther King, Jr.

A genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus but a molder of consensus.
Martin Luther King, Jr.

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