On the Road to Peace
A Monthly Newsletter from Fr. John
Dear friends, Blessings of peace! Advent, the season of hope, is upon us and invites us to place our hope once again in the nonviolent Jesus. Given the state of the world, this is just what we need.
As we prepare for Christmas and the Christmas season, we put Jesus and his teachings of peace, love and nonviolence at the center of our lives all over again. We try to make Jesus our hope, and discover hope in him and in his reign of peace and love.
To do that, we have to stop putting our hope elsewhere. These days, we’re like lost sheep, following false shepherds, wandering aimlessly, hurting one another. To concentrate on the life and teachings of the nonviolent Jesus in such a dark time means shutting off the bad news and nurturing the good news.
To prepare for the nonviolent Jesus, I suggest we turn off the TV. Let’s not give our cruel, deceptive president our attention or allegiance. Let’s renounce our greed, violence, racism and sexism. Let’s experiment with the Gospel by giving the nonviolent Jesus all our attention, all our allegiance, all our obedience.
Advent invites us to prepare for Jesus’ coming in the world by preparing for the gift of peace and getting ready all over again to his be gentle loving, peacemaking disciples.
Strangely, most Christians in the U.S. seem to do the opposite. We seem to love our country and its wars, our guns and bombs, our president and corporations, our racism and injustices, all the while deluding ourselves that we also love Jesus, that we are the most devoted Christians, that we are faithful.
We praise God on Sundays and get on with the big business of America and its wars, greed, racism and injustices the rest of the week. In doing so, we stray far from the life and teachings of the nonviolent Jesus, but we don’t know it.
The press coverage following the death of George H.W. Bush showed this. The New York Times called him a man of “uncommon grace,” “a gentle soul,” and “a great and noble man.” Bush spent his life in the big business of death, overseeing the killing of hundreds of thousands of people in Nicaragua, El Salvador, Guatemala, Panama and Iraq. He bombed Iraq in early 1991 and killed at least 300,000 people, and started a war that never really ended, that his son continued by killing hundreds of thousands more—but he was a gentle soul, a great and noble man, a true Christian.
The empire is always telling us what to do, and we go right along. It would have us serve the power of death as if this were the highest calling in life, as if this were the true Christian calling. Jesus instead calls us to repent from the culture of violence and war and follow him on the path of nonviolence and peace.
As Advent people of nonviolence and hope, we try to do our part to welcome the Christmas gift of peace on earth. As people of Advent we resist the Herods of this world, try to stop the killing of children, welcome the stranger and immigrant, and speak out for justice and peace like John the Baptist in the desert of Mary in the Magnificat.
Advent summons us to build a new culture of nonviolence for the nonviolent Jesus. It calls us to reflect on our lives, pray for the Christmas gift of peace on earth, work for the abolition of war and injustice, stand up publicly for truth and widen the circle of peace and nonviolence around us. Along the way, we discover once again what a gift Jesus is for us, what gifts he offers, and what peace among us might look like.
My prayer this December is that we might all fulfill our vocations to be disciples of the nonviolent Jesus, people of uncommon, gentle, graceful nonviolence, who serve his reign of peace and love with full devotion.