Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ:
On this Good Shepherd Sunday, Jesus declares that he is the Good Shepherd whose sheep know his voice and listen to him.
Last week as we were hearing about Jesus’ appearance to his disciples and his repeated bestowal of his peace upon them, we learned of our country’s alliance with Great Britain and France in a retaliatory missile attack on Syria due to its use of chemical warfare on its own citizens. I know that something had to be done, but violence in response to violence only leads to more violence. Jesus gives his disciples a peace that the world does not have and cannot give. It is a peace rooted in God’s love and respect for the dignity of every person. It is not a peace achieved by coercion; it is a peace achieved by healing and reconciliation. Jesus gives us the gift of his peace so that we can give it to our world, a peace which is beyond its imagination and, perhaps, ours.
This past February, in anticipation of the commemoration of the fiftieth anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination, Archbishop Lori issued a pastoral reflection on the enduring power of King’s Principles of Non-Violence. The Archbishop demonstrates that these principles are consistent with Catholic social doctrine. He also says they call for an ongoing “conversion of heart and mind and a firm commitment to teach, learn, and practice
non-violent action for social change.” I encourage everyone to read this reflection on the Archdiocesan website:
I offer King’s six principles of non-violence and a reflection question for each to help us identify the subtle roots of violence that are within each of us and lead us to a conversion of heart that helps us recognize the voice of Christ who gives us a peace the world cannot give.
1) Non-violence is a way of life for courageous people. It requires a deep spiritual strength. “It seeks not to
coerce others into conformity but to persuade others in love. What forms of violence persist in our hearts and behaviors?
2) Non-violence seeks to win friendship and understanding. “It does not seek to defeat or humiliate an opponent, but to win his friendship and understanding.” Do we seek to build bridges of understanding among those with whom we disagree?
3) Non-violence seeks to defeat injustice, not people. It is a prophetic word that calls out injustice and warns against its consequences for people and society. Do we share in the extreme partisanship of the times?
4) Non-violence holds that suffering can educate and transform. The best example of this is the Cross of Jesus, the acceptance of suffering without retaliation, a suffering that reveals the evil of violence. How do we respond when our witness to truth is rejected or ridiculed?
5) Non-violence chooses love instead of hate. “At the root of this form of love is the recognition that God loves every person tenderly, that God is rich in mercy, and all human life is sacred.” How do we forgive our enemies?
6) Non-violence believes that justice will ultimately triumph. Non-violence bears a hope that does not give up on God or other people. Do we believe that God’s justice will ultimately triumph?
King’s six principles lead us to the peace of the Good Shepherd so that we can give it to our world.
May God’s Peace be Yours,