March 31

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

1 Peter 2:21-25

We get to the heart of non-violence in this text. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., was an advocate for non-violent social change. Such a proclamation doesn’t fit with our cultural tendency toward violence. As we continue this Lenten journey, I think here it is best to let Dr. King speak on the six principles of non-violence.

  • Nonviolence is a way of life for courageous people.
  • Nonviolence seeks to win friendship and understanding.
  • Nonviolence seeks to defeat injustice, not people.
  • Nonviolence holds that suffering can educate and transform.
  • Nonviolence chooses love instead of hate.
  • Nonviolence believes the universe is on the side of justice.

When Jesus chose this path, he was choosing an integrated path. He knew there were people who were in very different places, but Jesus was one who valued (Fr. Richard Rohr would say “saw the Christ”) in others, no matter who they were. Jesus was connected to the poor, tax collectors, Zealots, Pharisees and members of the Sanhedrin.

Bishop Desmond Tutu and Nelson Mandela were people who had every right to take a stand. The people who had suffered at the hands of the tyrannical reign of apartheid in South Africa could have overthrown the government violently, and many would have considered it justified. But Bishop Tutu and the soon-to-be-president Mandela wanted something different for their country. They wanted nonviolence to be the standard, and from that was formed the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

The epistle of Peter makes it clear that this is the image of Christ. It is the image that is foundational to Dr. King’s principles. If we listen closely, it might be the call for us today. Can we effect justice and righteousness by these same principles.

If we are followers of Jesus, yes … yes, we can!

Lord, teach us of revolutionary change and transformation that we might restore your creation and its inhabitants to you. Amen.

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