Lent, Nonviolence, Peace Spirituality

Lent 2018: Reflection for the Second Sunday of Lent, February 25 – The Beloved Son and the Beloved Community

From the Maryknoll Office for Global Concern’s 2018 Lenten Reflection Guide: Embracing Jesus’ Practice of Nonviolence

Genesis 22:1-2, 9a, 10-13, 15-18 | Romans 8:31b-34 | Mark 9:2-10

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This week we hear the awe-inspiring story of Jesus’ Transfiguration. Peter, James, and John went up a mountain and spent the night in prayer with Jesus. There they saw Jesus transformed in glory and the prophets of old talking with him. “Then from a cloud came a voice: ‘This is my beloved Son. Listen to him.’”

The Transfiguration conveys two affirmations: God is with us and God can transform us.

When Peter says to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here,” Jesus gives him a firm rebuke. Maryknoll Father Stephen Judd in Bolivia points to the teaching of Spanish Scripture scholar, José Antonio Pagola, on the message of the Transfiguration: Listen to Jesus’ words and apply them in creating the kinds of right relationships that build communities in the here and now. “Peter’s mistaken attitude is one of exclusion, wanting to hoard the presence of Jesus for a select group of followers,” Father Judd says.

Father Judd also reminds us of Pope Francis’ warning against exclusivity in our relationships, which the pope calls ‘the globalization of indifference’. “How many of us, myself included, have lost our bearings; we are no longer attentive to the world in which we live; we don’t care; we don’t protect what God created for everyone, and we end up unable even to care for one another!” Pope Francis said.

This fits well with Dr. King’s second principle of nonviolence: Nonviolence seeks to win friendship and understanding. The end result of nonviolence is redemption and reconciliation and the purpose of nonviolence is the creation of the Beloved Community.

As explained by The King Center, “Dr. King’s Beloved Community is a global vision in which all people can share in the wealth of the earth.” Fundamental to the concept of the Beloved Community is inclusiveness, both economic and social. At the same time, Dr. King believed “conflicts could be resolved peacefully and adversaries could be reconciled through a mutual, determined commitment to nonviolence.”

The central vision of world history in the Bible is that all of creation is one, Walter Brueggemann writes in Living Toward a Vision: Biblical Reflections on Shalom. “Every creature in community with every other, living in harmony and security toward the joy and well-being of every other creature.” … “That persistent vision of joy, well-being, harmony, and prosperity is not captured in any single word or idea in the Bible; a cluster of words is required to express its many dimensions and subtle nuances: love, loyalty, truth, grace, salvation, justice, blessing, righteousness. But the term that in recent discussion has been used to summarize that controlling vision is shalom.”

When asked years later what he saw as a vision of shalom for Christians today, Brueggemann said, “I think it means peaceable life together among the nations and tribes and religious traditions, and economic justice so that everybody has enough resources to live a life of safety and dignity.”

Click here for the rest of this reflection, questions, a prayer, suggestions for fasting and action, and more.

* Photo credit: “Masais” by Flickr/Leon Cabeiro, licensed in the creative commons 2.0 and available at http://bit.ly/2F3F30f.
Lent, Nonviolence

Lent 2017: Reflection for the Fifth Sunday of Lent, April 2 – With the Lord there is mercy and fullness of redemption

by Martha Inés Romero
Latin America Regional Coordinator, Pax Christi International

Ezekiel 37:12-14 | Romans 8:8-11 | John 11:1-45

In the midst of the suffering caused by poverty and marginalization, in Latin America and the Caribbean, every day people build stories of change, resistance and resilience. These stories witness the involvement of many missionaries – religious and lay, women and men – promoting peace-building and nonviolence, forgiveness and reconciliation. We hear stories about the incarnational humanness of the work for just peace and overcoming violence, the work that brings meaning to life.

Archbishop Oscar Romero said:

“When the church hears the cry of the oppressed, it cannot but denounce the social structures that give rise to and perpetuate the misery from which the cry arises.”

This message caused a great impact on our people to continue fighting against injustice. These days good news occurs in our context: El Salvador’s Congress approved a law prohibiting all metal mining projects in its territory. At the same time, in a small town, Cajamarca in Colombia, 99% of its inhabitants voted to ban mining. It implies that a big gold mining company may not be permitted to extract gold – a $2 billion potential investment that could yield 28 million ounces of gold – because people voted to defend their water. Both cases have been deeply supported by the Catholic church, as a way to care for the Creation, as Laudato Si’ demands to us.

We must believe that Creation is life offered, and that we shall commit ourselves to contribute to a new lifestyle, according to suma kawsay or “buen vivir”, the Andean cosmovision that promotes a way of doing things that is community-centric, ecologically balanced and culturally sensitive. We defend life when we defend our respect for the dignity of every person and the harmony of Creation as a whole. Transforming conflicts from a nonviolence approach is a way in which we can react towards violence and injustice.

Let’s pray for those who defend life and Creation, with their life if necessary, as in El Salvador and Cajamarca, and with Psalm 129, we shall reaffirm: “With the Lord there is mercy and fullness of redemption.

Martha Inés Romero is the Latin America Regional Coordinator for Pax Christi International.