by Fr. John Dear, S.J.
Pax Christi USA Ambassador of Peace
One day, when Jesus was marching toward Jerusalem, some of the hated enemy Samaritans denounced him for his nonviolent campaign. The disciples were furious, appalled, filled with moral indignation. They suddenly forgot Jesus’ lofty talk: “Love your enemies”; “offer no violent resistance to one who does evil”; “blessed are the peacemakers.” They were ready for war, and they had a just cause.
“Lord, do you want us to call down fire from heaven to consume them?” James and John asked Jesus. It is one of most shocking questions in the Gospels, one of the most blatant examples of their complete misunderstanding of Jesus.
They wanted to emulate the prophet Elijah, who called down hellfire from the skies and killed his enemies. They didn’t yet understand that Jesus offers an entirely new way of life where peaceful means lead to peaceful ends. They remain clueless about life in the footsteps of the nonviolent Jesus.
We’re not much different from them.…