Full PDF Version can be found here: Creative Voice_Marie Dennis-Fourth Sunday of Advent_December 21.2014.11314 Copyright © November 2014 l Education for Justice, a Project of the Center of Concern
Reading for the Day
• 2 Samuel 7: 1-5, 8b-12, 14a, 16
• Psalm 89: 2-3, 4-5, 27-29
• Romans 16: 25-27
• Luke 1: 26-38
And the angel said to her in reply,
“The Holy Spirit will come upon you,
and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.
Therefore the child to be born
will be called holy, the Son of God.
And behold, Elizabeth, your relative,
has also conceived a son in her old age,
and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren;
for nothing will be impossible for God. (Luke 1: 26-28)
In the last century or so, many people from around the world responded to horrific violence – to war, genocide, brutal repression nonviolently. They went to Cambodia and Vietnam, El Salvador, Nicaragua and Guatemala, Chile and Colombia, Zimbabwe, Sudan and the DR Congo, Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina, Palestine and Afghanistan. They went to rural hollows and inner cities and to all the places in our own country where violence threatens to overwhelm. They accompanied those who were threatened, organized with local communities to resist and refuse cooperation with evil, and brought public scrutiny to egregious violations of life.
Nothing will be impossible for God …
Jesus was a forceful peacemaker. He actively but nonviolently addressed the structures, systems, and patterns of violence that were destroying the lives of people in his times. Love your enemies, he said. Welcome those who have been excluded from the community. Seek justice to the point of persecution. Feed the hungry. Clothe the naked. Give drink to the thirsty. Free prisoners. Proclaim jubilee. Because of this and the many other acts of resistance and love that defined his life, he was executed. And when he greeted those who had abandoned him, his first words were, “Peace be with you.”
Nonviolent living is an idea that is both simple and complex, transparent and opaque. It is a fundamental option/direction in life that shapes who you are, how you behave, what you care about, and what you do. It requires a deep understanding that there are many faces to violence and real connections to those who have been abused by violence. To live nonviolently we have to smell like the sheep, those who are most vulnerable to the many forms of violence in our world.
Maryknoll lay missioner Larry Parr began a soccer program in 2009 in Las Delicias, El Salvador, to keep young people from joining gangs and provide them with a safe environment and a sense of belonging. A similar program started by Pax Christi Port au Prince in Cité Soleil engaged former gang members in the Sakala program, playing soccer for peace and planting trees in a barren and deserted part of the city. Pax Christi Netherlands helped begin a peace and sports program called Playing for Peace in South Sudan to help young warriors from different pastoralist communities discuss the values, virtues and vices in cattle raiding in order to come up with peaceful ways of relating to each other.
Nonviolence is never passive; it is always fully engaged in life, seeking to reshape the systems and structures of our society so that they are less violent. This involves personal witness, renewed relationships, conscientious consumer decisions, policy advocacy, public actions, civil disobedience, and more. To live lightly on the earth is essential to living nonviolently. So is a commitment to the common good, a rejection of orchestrated fear, and a belief in human rather than national security. Nonviolence is creative and courageous, increasingly essential though not well understood, and increasingly effective in achieving a real resolution to many, even seemingly intractable, conflicts.
At the same time, the public is almost completely unwilling to consider active nonviolence as a viable alternative to violence and war, or to invest sufficient resources in developing nonviolent tools.
Nothing will be impossible for God …
To build a culture of peace in the United States in this 21st century, we will have to:
• grapple with our own fear and insecurity, enabling us to live with vulnerability, even see it as necessary for faithful living in a world where a majority of people are always vulnerable;
• rework our value system from the ground up, reclaiming the positive and eliminating, rather than orchestrating, the violent and destructive;
• reset our priorities from the accumulation of power, wealth, and consumer goods to nurturing right relationships with other people and the rest of creation;
• move from individualism to emphasize community – ultimately the global community, the beloved global community;
• learn to be present, to listen, to wait, and to relinquish our need for instant gratification;
• reexamine national symbols and myths to strip them of their ability to isolate and blind us, helping us as a people to rethink our way of being in the world – helping us to risk.
Jesus, Peacemaker, thank you for the witness of so many people who are committed to peace and nonviolence. Protect them when they are in danger and help us to follow their example of vulnerability and love.
FAITH IN ACTION
In the coming week prayerfully study the following vow of nonviolence, which was written for Pax Christi USA many years ago. What would such a vow mean in your own life? What insights does the vow give you about this Season of Peace? Consider the possibility of making the vow, perhaps for a period of one year.
CATHOLIC SOCIAL TEACHING
The Church proclaims “the Gospel of peace” (Eph 6:15) and she wishes to cooperate with all national and international authorities in safeguarding this immense universal good. By preaching Jesus Christ, who is himself peace (cf. Eph 2:14), the new evangelization calls on every baptized person to be a peacemaker and a credible witness to a reconciled life. (Joy of the Gospel #239)
VOW OF NONVIOLENCE
Recognizing the violence in my own heart, yet trusting in the goodness and mercy of God, I vow for one year to practice the nonviolence of Jesus who taught us in the Sermon on the Mount: “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the sons and daughters of God… You have learned how it was said, ‘You must love your neighbor and hate your enemy’; but I say to you, Love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you. In this way, you will be daughters and sons of your Creator
Before God the Creator and the Sanctifying Spirit, I vow to carry out in my life the love and example of Jesus
- by striving for peace within myself and seeking to be a peacemaker in my daily life;
- by accepting suffering rather than inflicting it;
- by refusing to retaliate in the face of provocation and violence;
- by persevering in nonviolence of tongue and heart;
- by living conscientiously and simply so that I do not deprive others of the means to live;
- by actively resisting evil and working nonviolently to abolish war and the causes of war from my own heart and from the face of the earth. God, I trust in Your sustaining love and believe that just as You gave me the grace and desire to offer this, so You will also bestow abundant grace to fulfill it.