by Rev. John Dear, S.J.
World Day of Peace/Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God
Numbers 6:22-27 | Galatians 4:4-7 | Luke 2:16-21
The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising the God of peace for all they had heard and seen, just as it had been told to them. ~Luke 2:20
The earth has completed its orbit and we come upon a new year, traditionally a season for resolutions. But given our heaving, lurching world of violence, we need more, more even then sincere intentions. We need, I believe, solemn, religious vows–vows in particular to enter upon an abiding commitment to God’s way of peace and love.
Twenty-five years ago, some friends and I professed a vow of nonviolence in the spirit of Gandhi, who professed a similar vow one hundred years ago. Later, Pax Christi USA approached Eileen Egan and me. Would we draft a vow of nonviolence? Something to lead members into new dedication to the path of nonviolence. She and I managed to compose it, and tens of thousands have professed it since.
Gandhi, I’m convinced, was right: the only solution to global violence is creative, loving nonviolence. A great challenge and a tall order. For us, it entails, from this day onward, being nonviolent to our spouses, children, parents, relatives, neighbors, and everyone we meet. It entails being nonviolent to ourselves, nonviolent in our language and in our work. Nonviolent in our politics and policies. Nonviolent in our attitudes toward humanity and creation. From now on, we espouse and practice nonviolence toward the whole human race, come what may.
Such a commitment is a life-long journey. It requires daily meditation, study, Gospel-reading, community building, periodic training, and public action. It requires finding a way to place the God of peace at the center of our lives, putting God as the goal of our common life, making divine values the measure of all we do. Nonviolence requires surrendering ourselves over and over again to the God of peace. Only then will we find ourselves becoming instruments of peace.
This new year, we’re invited to take a fresh look at the Pax Christi Vow of Nonviolence. You’ll find it fits well within our long tradition of solemn, religious vows. One can pronounce it privately, or with a local peace community, or as part of a parish liturgy. Share it with parishioners, family, co-workers, neighbors, and friends. You might want to read it every morning as a way to remind yourself of your commitment to the path of nonviolence.
Taken seriously, a vow of nonviolence will set us on a course of immeasurable blessings. It will bear us over a lifetime of peace, forgiveness, compassion, and suffering love, will inspire lifelong fidelity to the nonviolent Jesus. Together, as Pax Christi people, it may transform us into a new church, a new world of peace.
2 thoughts on “NEW YEAR’S DAY: Reflection for World Day of Peace/Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God, January 1”
With my Italian-American heritage – it is sometimes exceedingly difficult to restrain the violence of my expression ! But then my friends understand – and the wicked, like those who murdered my sister in 1975 deserve and only benefit from my strongly and truthfully calling them to task ! Peace to all my Brothers & Sisters !
Phisical and symbolic violence a terrible waste of energy, useless. Nevertheless it would be important to stress that what Gandhi did -that is the Independence of India from the British domain-, was limited to this. Caste society did not disappear, still India is a class and still is a caste society, and this is also very violent. Some persons understand nonviolence as not doing anything regarding the general alienation of society, but that is violence, “as long as I and my family are well” who cares?. We have to work against outer and inner violence but we have to be aware that the a system of exploitation is based in violence and history gives evidence that no conventional warfare does anything about it, just chaos. The great interrogation is how we defend ourselves from abuse, when we are so few and with such scarce internal strength resources, and that is the big question. Let my quote Peter Maurin: “When John Calvin legalized moneylending at interest he made the bank account the standard of values. When the bank account became the standard of values, people ceased to produce for use and began to produce for profits they became wealth-producing maniacs they produced too much wealth.When people found out that they had produced too much wealth they went on an orgy of wealth destruction and destroyed ten million lives besides. And fifteen years after a world-wide orgy of wealth and life destruction millions of people find themselves victims of a world-wide depression brought about by a world gone mad on mass- production and mass-distribution”. And I will add, imperial exploitation. How can we construct different paradigms in front of this violence? Where are the answers?. Happy New Year