Peace through the practice of non-violence
Matthew 5:9 Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called children of God.
Matthew 5:38 – 41 You have heard that it is said, “An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.” But I say to you, Do not resist an evil doer. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also; and if anyone wants to sue you and take your coat, give your cloak as well; and if anyone forces you to go one mile, go also the second mile.”
Song: Prayer of St. Francis,(Make Me A Channel of Your Peace)
Dear God, you call us to be peacemakers. Yet, we do not know how to do this. Help us to learn the holy stance and practice of non-violence. May it fill our hearts, minds, and the very marrow of our bones. May it drip from our fingers and flow in our speech. May our hands always act non-violently and may our footsteps lead us in the way of peace. May all that we do and are be filled with your non-violent spirit of peace.
The practice of non-violence is one that we need to live, model and teach others. Jesus gave us some instruction for this practice in the Beatitudes, “if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also.” We see him model heroic non-violence as he refuses to resist his own torture and death. We can also look to modern day religious figures who practiced non-violence, such as Blessed Arch-Bishop Oscar Romero. He grew in his understanding of the plight of the poor in El Salvador and he became a tireless non-violent advocate for their rights. He too gave the ultimate sacrifice, with his life.
In the United States we have used non-violent means to change laws and social norms since the birth of our nation. In the 1960s, we saw an example of this in the men and women being spit at and beaten as they sat at a lunch counter in segregated Mississippi. They had trained for just such an encounter and they sat stoically as they were taunted and assaulted. Just last month, we saw thousands of people, including some of our own Sisters and Associates, come together to march for an end to gun violence. All of these are examples of non-violent actions to promote justice and peace.
Reflection Question: How am I called to learn and practice non-violence in my life this day?
(Pause for a moment of silent reflection)
Intercessory Prayer for Nonviolence: by John Dear
Response: God of Peace, hear our prayer.
- That we might practice nonviolence as Jesus did, come to understand his creative non-violence, and obey his commandments of nonviolence: “put down your sword,” “Be compassionate as God,” and “love your enemies,” we pray:
- For the coming of a new generation of peacemakers, for new teachers, prophets, apostles, champions and saints of Gospel non-violence, who will help the world turn from violence to non-violence, and so, fulfill our vocations to be the beloved sons and daughters of the God of peace, we pray:
- That we might come to know and worship God as a God of peace and non-violence, who “makes the sun rise on the good and the bad, and causes the rain to fall on the just and the unjust,” that we might become peacemakers who help end war and create a culture of nonviolence, and so, fulfill our vocations to be the beloved sons and daughters of the God of peace, we pray:
Thank you for sending us Jesus to teach us the way of peace and non-violence. We pray in gratitude for all of those who have modeled peacemaking through non-violence: Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Dorothy Day, Thomas Merton, Rosa Parks, Daniel Berrigan, Oscar Romero and many other simple men and women. May we learn to “act justly, love tenderly, and to walk humbly with our God, ” (Micah 6:8) as we too build peace through non-violent action.
Together, let us sing: May God Creator bless us, May God Redeemer heal us and May God the Holy Spirit fill us with peace.
Suggested Practice: Today I will practice intentional breathing by saying inwardly, “Peace” as I inhale and “Love” as I exhale.
Join us to Be Peace, Build Peace, and Preach Peace. You can reach us via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Prepared by Sister June Fitzgerald, OP, New Haven CT.