January 20

Martin Luther King, Jr


“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

The voices of our prophets are too piercing, their messages are too discomforting, their call to change shakes the foundations of our society.  So it   has been through the ages. So it was with Martin Luther King,Jr. He 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 and yet, like the prophets who went before him, his message lives. We see tangible evidence of the change his life accomplished even as we view with sorrow the racism that is still evident publicly and privately in our country. Yet, we believe in this message of hope: “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).


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.


Do I recognize any prophets in our present society?  What signs make me aware of them? In what small ways am I called to be a prophet?

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 

“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 seat 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 creatorwith 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.

Click to read remarks on Maladjustment By Dr. King