Nonviolence, Peace Spirituality

The fruit of peace is solidarity and justice

by Katrina Alton
Pax Christi UK

A Reflection for the 2nd Sunday of Easter…

Acts 4:32-35 | 1 John 5:1-6 | John 20:19-31

How were the first followers of Jesus transformed from being a group of frightened people hiding behind locked doors, to a vibrant justice filled community that inspired others to join them? In John’s Gospel we learn that the first step in this transformation process is taken by Jesus; he takes the initiative, he comes to them, meeting them where they are. Jesus doesn’t just break through the “locked doors”, but he breaks the cycle of violence. To those who had denied and abandoned him there is no message of retribution or judgment, but instead, “Peace be with you”. With this gift of peace there also comes a task, the task to forgive others as God forgives us. This is the priority Jesus sets us; to be people of peace and reconciliation in our families, our communities and in our world.

For those first disciples a commitment to peace making, to actively following Jesus’ way of nonviolence, meant they willingly endured the stigma of being called “Christian”. By refusing to fight in the Roman army, or put their trust in war or weapons, they were marked out as followers of Jesus, the Jesus whom the Roman Empire had crucified. Yet they bore this stigma with pride, for having touched and been touched by the stigmata of the risen Christ, they were sent out in the power of the Spirit to show the world that it is through forgiveness,  reconciliation and love, not through violence, war or  retaliation, that true peace is established. The fruit of that peace, we read in Acts, is solidarity and justice.

This Easter as we embrace the gift of Christ’s peace, let us pray that the Spirit will transform us, so that we may willing bear any stigma that being followers of Jesus’ way of nonviolence may bring for the sake of justice and peace.

Katrina Alton is a Sister of St Joseph of Peace and a Pax Christi member from Nottingham. You can read all of Pax Christi UK’s post-Easter Sunday reflections here. 

Lent, Nonviolence, Peace Spirituality

Reflection for Easter Sunday, April 16 – Nonviolence reaches for the greater good

by Nancy Small
Pax Christi USA Ambassador of Peace

Acts 10:34, 37-43 | Colossians 3:1-4 | John 20:1-9

Since you’ve been resurrected with Christ, set your heart on what pertains to higher realms, where Christ is seated at God’s right hand. (Col 3:1)

emptytombWe began Holy Week in hope proclaiming hosanna. We end in hope proclaiming alleluia. Alleluia to the Risen Christ! Alleluia to hope rising and resounding with joy in our hearts!

Today’s epistle reading invites us to live as an Easter people, saying, “Since you’ve been resurrected with Christ, set your heart on what pertains to higher realms” (Col 3:1). This summons is given by disciples who committed themselves to continuing the nonviolent way of Jesus. With Christ as their stronghold, they lengthened the reach of nonviolence into the heart of society. Each time they were beaten or imprisoned, they persevered, never giving up, always reaching toward the greater good.

The way of nonviolence has a lot to do with reaching for the greater good. We reach for the greater good within ourselves and appeal to the greater good in one another. And we reach for the greater good that lies in the heart of society. We do this by calling forth and cultivating more of the stuff of heaven that we long for on earth. More justice, more peace, more love. More patience diffusing tempers and tension in conflicts. More mercy guiding public policies and washing over hearts filled with hatred. More healing in people and places harmed by violence.

“Each of us has a capacity for great good and that is what makes God say it was well worth the risk to bring us into existence,” writes Archbishop Desmond Tutu. “God … depends on us, puny, fragile, vulnerable as we may be, to accomplish God’s purposes for good, for justice, for forgiveness, for healing and wholeness.”

This is our summons. Fragile though we may be, we bring our faith. We bring our fortitude. And we bring our unwavering commitment to live as disciples of Christ who became vulnerable so that he might be victorious. Amen! Alleluia!

Nancy Small is the former National Coordinator of Pax Christi USA and an Ambassador of Peace.