Updated: Mar 20
Open Blog: Postings are the opinion of the essayist.
FCLNY is extremely grateful for the opinions offered and invite others to submit essays to: email@example.com. FCLNY recognizes that within the community of subscribers to the consistent life ethic there is a diversity of views as to how this ethic might be implemented in culture, philosophy and law. Not all views necessarily hinge on FCLNY’s opposition to publicly-sanctioned lethal violence. Some may expand that view. Others may narrow that view. Our open blog allows FCLNY supporters and guest essayists to explore these differences in order to achieve greater understanding between peers and within our communities.
Jesus is Nonviolence incarnate. — Fr. Bernard Haring, C.Ss.R.
Hypocrite! Take the plank out of your own eye first, and then you will see clearly enough to take the splinter out of your brother’s eye. -Matthew 7: 5
Let us remember that Jesus lived his whole life in a land that was occupied by a brutal Roman army. In the first reading in our Lectionary (Isaiah 2, 1-5) the prophet says the Messiah’s mission will be to give instruction in his ways and when we “walk in his paths” the result will be an end to war and militarism. Therefore, we should not be surprised that the real, only and pragmatic answer to our questions about war and how to end it can be found in the Gospel.
In the Gospel, Jesus three times commands His disciples to “love your enemies.”
(Matt. 6: 44 , Luke 6: 27, 35) Matthew, Mark and Luke record that Jesus answered a question, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” by saying “You must not kill.” (Matt. 19: 18, Mark 10: 19, Luke 18: 20)
If actions speak louder than words, the clearest indication of what Jesus would do (remember WWJD?) if he walked the earth in Ukraine today can be found in the account of Gethsemane. Here, Jesus was never armed. He refused Peter’s violent defense of his most innocent person. He healed the wound of his enemy Malchus, the servant of the High Priest who had come with an armed mob and a Roman cohort to arrest him. Jesus surrendered to his enemies without violence, the perfect illustration of “agape your enemies”. There was no time to suggest that Peter negotiate for “multilateral, verifiable disarmament” with the mob and the Roman military. Jesus commanded unilateral disarmament in the face of his impending death. Nonviolent love of enemies does not depend on any reciprocity on the part of the enemy. Agape is willing to suffer without the desire for retaliation. It does not ensure one’s safety. It did not ensure Jesus’ safety, though it did succeed in preventing further bloodshed on that occasion. Jesus refused to kill and he did not allow his disciples to kill.
Western Christianity, with few exceptions, has justified war after war for 1700 years out of an idolatry of imperial, royal or state authority. Orthodox Christianity has done likewise since its beginning. The operative reality of all “Christian” just war theories has been to cede prerogative to the governing authority and “support the troops” who are doing the killing, while ignoring the teaching, the Way and the New Commandment of Jesus to love one another as he has loved us. (John 13: 34)
The use of violence to solve problems posed by an unwanted pregnancy or an unwanted invader of your country may be legal or not. Unlike human laws, the Gospel Law of Love prescribes no punishment to enforce observance. Love cannot be coerced and the way Jesus loved us sinners included mercy and forgiveness, even for his murderers. Those who choose to observe Jesus’ New Commandment must begin with a steadfast refusal to kill the guilty or the innocent.
Jesus did not advocate for laws or treaties to outlaw war. We have such international laws today but they have not worked. Jesus addressed individual conscience. When the Churches teach clearly and with authority what Jesus taught in relation to violence and killing, more people may come to believe and we may yet realize Isaiah’s vision of a disarmed, demilitarized, life affirming world. US Catholics might begin by removing the plank out of our own eye first before pointing out the splinter in the eye of Vladimir Putin and the Russian Orthodox Patriarch, an unholy alliance matched by most US Catholic bishops’ support for Joseph Biden’s militarism and war making.
Before this war, it seemed the Church was about to do away with "Christian" just war theory. (CJWT) Rather than bringing back CJWT from the edge of oblivion, this war should end its subversion of the Gospel forever. Let the nonviolent love of Jesus disarm us all!
Essayist: Mark Scibilia-Carver