Non-violence. When you read that word, what comes to mind? Perhaps you think of Gandhi of India or Martin Luther King, Jr. of the US. Both of these 20th-century heroes obtained independence and civil rights for millions of people using non-violent means.
Through peaceful marches, boycotts, and prayer, Gandhi led thousands of India’s citizens to seek freedom through non-violence. The British parliament finally yielded to their demands and granted their country its independence in 1947.
We honor King for his leadership in America’s civil rights movement in America throughout the 1950s and ’60s. His skill as an orator, his courage, and his compelling letters inspired Americans to pass laws that granted equality to all races in such venues as employment, housing, schooling, and travel. Sadly, both of these men who were deeply committed to non-violence were killed violently. Gandhi was shot in 1948; Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated in 1968.
The life of Jesus influenced both Gandhi’s and King’s commitment to using peaceful methods of protest. From the beginning of his ministry, Jesus embraced non-violence, and taught his followers to “turn the other cheek.” The disturbing incident Luke describes in today’s passage happened in an unlikely place: Jesus’ hometown synagogue. When his life was threatened by those who disagreed with him, Jesus did not fight back. He simply walked away, right through the middle of the crowd. Had you witnessed the scene in this story, how would it have changed your prayers the next day?
What effect can someone committed to God’s vision of peace, who lives with integrity, have in this world?
Creator of all, help me learn to love everyone as you do. Grow my capacity to treat others with justice and grace. Amen.