Nonviolence, Peace Spirituality

When we realise our weakness, we realise our discipleship

by Henrietta Cullinan
Pax Christi UK

A Reflection for the 7th Sunday of Easter…

Acts 1:15-17, 20-26 | 1 John 4:11-16 | John 17:11-19

Discipleship, we learn from this Sunday’s readings, means transformation, means thankfulness, means accepting God’s will. As the psalm says, ‘The Lord has set his sway’. Jesus prays that we be ‘one like us’, leading me to the blessed but at the same time terrifying understanding that God has chosen me and given me to Jesus. Jean Vanier writes of this Gospel passage, ‘This holiness is not something we achieve; it is given.’ [1]

We don’t only become disciples by being committed activists, full of austere courage, brimming with facts and figures about the arms trade say, or high level analysis of geopolitics. The world won’t thank us for bearing witness, it is true, or causing a disruption and standing in the way of its business. But according to Jean Vanier, Christ’s prayer calls us to accept our vulnerability.

When I visited friends in Kabul last year, unlike in most well-to-do houses, and institutions, there was no armed guard. I signed a statement, asking not to be rescued if I was kidnapped. I tried not to think about the implications of this, remembering S. Brian Willson’s words, ‘We are not worth more’ [2]. Instead I followed my hosts’ precautions, taking different routes, not speaking in public, even though taxi drivers often wanted a chat. Stuck in a massive traffic jam once, our driver even warned off a nosy policemen, saying we were Turkish. I had no choice but to put my faith in the people around me. But then I had a passport and a plane ticket, a heavily- guarded international airport, to fly in and out of.

As followers of Jesus’ way of nonviolence, we become vulnerable. When we put ourselves in the way of the businesses and powers that put greed over human life, we come to realise our weakness, and realise our discipleship.

Guide us into the way of Peace.


[1] Vanier, Jean, Drawn into the mystery of Jesus through the Gospel of John, DLT Books, London 2004, p296
[2] S. Brian Willson is an American peace activist and Vietnam War veteran who lost both his legs blockading arms shipments bound for Central America in 1987

Henrietta Cullinan is administrator for the Faith & Resistance Network and a member of the London Catholic Worker. You can read all of Pax Christi UK’s post-Easter Sunday reflections here. 

Nonviolence, Peace Spirituality

The Acts of the Apostles: Our family album

by Gerry McFlynn
Pax Christi UK

A Reflection for the 6th Sunday of Easter…

Acts 10:25-26, 34-35, 44-48 | 1 John 4:7-10 | John 15:9-17

The Acts of the Apostles is the only New Testament book of which we can claim authorship. The Gospels describe the life of Jesus; they contain his Will and Testament and we are the executors of that Will.  The letters of the Apostles explain how that life should be lived.  Acts tells us how those first followers of Jesus did, in fact, live it.

It describes how they tried to make sense of the large print of his words about things like – losing one’s life in order to save it, turning the other cheek, sharing one’s goods, going the extra mile, to say nothing of loving one’s enemies!  It also gives an account of the enormous joy and hope unleashed in them.  And it is a story that has not ended, for every Christian life is a chapter in this Book – our family album!

A striking feature of the lifestyle of those first followers was their refusal to engage with militarism or any other “ism” that militated against the wellbeing of another human being.  They believed that God’s Spirit of love had been poured out on everyone.  In fact, they became known for the love they had for everyone, a love that manifested itself in their care for the poor, the weak and marginalised in society.

Acts describes a nonviolent, caring and compassionate lifestyle and shows how, even in our complicated and violent world, it is still possible to live such a life. As Easter People, we are challenged to live the same Spirit-filled life as those first followers.  We do this in another time, in a different world.  We have to do in our world NOW what those first Christians did in their world THEN.

Gerry McFlynn is a member of our Nonviolence Working Group, a priest and project manager for the Irish Council for Prisoners Overseas. You can read all of Pax Christi UK’s post-Easter Sunday reflections here.