Category Archives: Active Non Violence

“Love Your ENEMIES!” ~ The Veil Unveiled

Joy and Brightness of Sad and Dark Gethsemane

Take this cup AWAY from me, but not what I will but what you will.

~Mark 14, 36

Honest opinion, I find this statement coming from someone who’s a coward. But then again, it’s coming from Jesus, right? As usual, the real meaning ought to be encrypted in it. Jesus was a non-violent person throughout. He was also 100% human and 100% Divine. He foresaw the storm of violence that was heading His way and He wanted to avoid it by all means. But then God acts in mysterious ways, He had a different plan. He was gonna bring a Great Victory through the Non-Violence reaction of His Son. At Gethsemane Jesus, prays, this can also be incorporated into our lives. He also learnt to surrender to the will of His Father from His mother, where she first gave her consent to God, when she was told that she was going to give birth to Jesus and obediently accepted God’s will.

PRAY before you ACT, to know the will of your Father. And I’m not talking about reading a book with flowery prayers printed on it. A real time conversation with your Father. Tell Him how you feel, if your angry, sad, happy or jealous. Yes He knows it… but He prefers to hear it from the horse’s mouth. Then most definitely you’ll have a better view and find the correct solution.

Another instance was when the Disciples could not stay awake with Jesus and pray. Similarly, we also shut our eyes to the unjust things happening around us. Or ignore the slightest wastage that occur, thinking how can I being one person change the world?

According to Dear, if you take the situation at Gethsemane, there are two acts of Violence present in it.

  1. The Betrayal Mark 14, 45

    He came and immediately went over to him and said, “Rabbi.” And he kissed him.

    Robert Bly, a famous poet once said that “The only way to become wise is through betrayal”. Likewise, in this situation, Jesus knew about His betrayal and beyond that He even knew the betrayer. But still He did not withdraw Himself or react violently towards His betrayer.

  2. A bystander striking the High Priest Matthew 26, 52

    Put your sword back into its sheath, for all who take the sword will perish by the sword.

    Jesus had His own gang, so for sure, He could’ve called in for a war. A battle of the divine vs mortals. But He did not do it. Instead, He make everyone realize that weapons only bring destruction and they cannot bring back life from the dead.

Sanhedrin Trial and Mockery

In the following instances we see how Jesus was being ridiculed. He was bulleyed, but yet He didn’t retaliate.

Some took the stand and testified falsely against him...

~ Mark 14, 57

Some began to spit on him. They blindfolded him and struck him…

~ Mark 14, 65

Despite all the humiliation faced, he only did one thing which is a non-violent reaction to the violence He faced. SILENCE is Golden.

But he was silent and answered nothing.

~Mark 14, 61

But how long can Silence be the solution? Shouldn’t one speak up for the injustice He is facing or witnessing another going through? In Sinhala and Tamil there’s a proverb which says, the one who keeps bowing his head while he’s being struck is also a fool and the one who keeps striking while the other bows down is also a fool. Then how did Jesus react?

If I have spoken wrongly, testify to the wrong;

but if I have spoken rightly,

why do you strike me?

~John 18, 23

He questioned why He was being treated like this. Likewise, if you take a look at your own lives, how many times do we fear to react and speak when injustice is happening every second around us? We are afraid of what others will think about us, fear of life, position, reputation.

The Violent Crucifixion

Father, forgive them, they know not what they do.

~Luke 23, 34

After suffering an unbearable amount of agony and pain, Jesus asks for forgiveness on behalf of those who persecuted Him. This reminds His saying on forgiving 77 times, which is an innumerable amount. Therefore have no boundary set for your patience and love.

 “Forgive your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.

~Matthew 5, 44

 I have shown below a comparison on what Jesus could have said and done opposed to what He really said and did. (Cited from Dear’s articles and personal insertions)

What Jesus Could have said and done? What Jesus Actually said and did?
“Break their bodies for me!” “This is my body, broken for you.”
“Shed their blood for me!” “This is my blood, shed for you.”
“If my kingship were of this world, my servants would fight, that I might not be handed over to the Jews,” ~ John 18, 36 “My kingdom does not belong to this world…” ~ John 18, 36

Jesus according to Mahatma Gandhi

 “Jesus was the most active resister known perhaps to history. This was nonviolence par excellence

 “A man who was completely innocent, offered himself as a sacrifice for the good of others, including his enemies, and became the ransom of the world. It was a perfect act.

 The same Gandhi later on said the following as well,

 “I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.

 What made Gandhi say this? Is it the same Christ that we encounter in the Gospels, whom we are following. Or like those who during the Exodus idolized God as a Golden Calf, are we idolizing different images of Christ, which are moulded into a framework that suits us?

The Victorious End – The Resurrection

 If it was not for the Resurrection, none of us would’ve been Christians. This is the ultimate victory of God where He proved that Active Non-Violence is the only solution against Violence.

 “They conquered Him by the blood of the Lamb

~Revelation 12, 11

The best teaching that can be followed in order to react to violence with Non-Violence is, the Prayer of Peace bySt. Francis of Asisi. This prayer is the definition of real peace.

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.

Where there is hatred, let me sow love.

Where there is injury, pardon.

Where there is doubt, faith.

Where there is despair, hope.

Where there is darkness, light.

Where there is sadness, joy.

“Love Your ENEMIES” ~ The Veil

Aquinas University College has been conducting a short course on the topic Death of the Messiah for the Laity and the Religious to deepen their knowledge on the Passion and Death of Christ according to the Gospel of Mark. Yesterday was the last class and three of the final year Theology students had to do three presentations on the Pastoral/ Spiritual Implications of the Passion and Death of Christ to the lives of the Laity and the Religious.

I was second in command, so I had to gel with the flow of the first presenter and fit in the third presenter’s idea as well. Ms. Romany Rasquinho, the first presenter spoke on the different characters found in the Passion of Christ. Like Judas, Peter, Mary, Women of Jerusalem, Simon of Cyrene, etc; and which role would be a best fit for us. She mainly focused on Joseph of Aramathea at the end. Mrs. Rosanne Fernando, the third in line spoke on Burial and Resurrection and included a new reflection on the Resurrection of the Living.

Drawing the spotlight back to me, what was I left to talk about? Pretty much nothing. Approximately for 2 nights I was breaking my head on what to talk at the session and was left clueless. It was a similar thinking crisis I went through with deciding on my Final Year Project for the Computing degree. Well better late than never, out of the blue when I was at one of the classes, a topic struck me. Active Non-Violence. Well this is what my thesis is on, so why not do a speech on this. I wanted to do something unique and novel, but this was a bit of a risk. Connecting Active Non-Violence and the Passion of Christ had to be a gamble, because no sane person would find a connection between the two.

Being the risk taker, I grabbed this opportunity and did a bit of research. I came a cross some of the writings of John Dear SJ who is a pioneer of something called Theology of Non-Violence (Heard that the first time when I was doing the research). He basically speaks how Jesus reacted non-violently to the violent Passion he faced. Going down his line of thought, I based my presentation on the Non Violent Reaction of Jesus to His Violent Passion and Death. I catered to the Human Being Within You!

Before stepping into the Passion and Death, remember the days that Jesus walked among men and performed miracles? Well He uttered a particular phrase which is not mentioned during His Passion. But I think that the Passion is the enactment of that phrase. Preaching put into Practice.

Love Your Enemies

and

Pray for those who Persecute You

~Matthew 5, 44

Since the Old Testament is the basic foundation for the New Testament, the prophecy of a non-violent Messiah can be found in Zechariah 9, 9-10. Where he speaks of a Just Saviour who will Proclaim Peace to the Nations. Peace is not the mere absence of war. Taking the current context of our country, Sri Lanka, just because the war is over does that mean we have peace in our land? Certainly not! There is sorrow and pain within the mother who lost her child illicitly during the war and is still finding answers as to why her child was brutally killed. There is tension between the two neighbours, where one is a Sinhala and the other is a Tamil, each of them hate the other because of their race.

Dear presents a five fold aspect of Jesus as the Non-Violent Messiah according to the Gospels.

Pentagon
I organized my presentation according to a particular schema. Since it’s the Markan year, I organized the presentation according to the topics covered in the short course.

  1. Gethsemane – Prayer and Agony
  2. Sanhedrin Trial and Mockery
  3. Crucifixion
  4. The Ultimate Victory – The Resurrection

Teilhard de Chardin Colloquium 2011 in Sri Lanka

(For those who find the title of this post absolutely bizarre, please refer the following to know, who/ what is Teilhard de Chardin 😉 )

Last Saturday, 10th December 2011 on the Human Rights Day, the Teilhard de Chardin Colloquium 2011 was held at the Subodhi Institute in Sri Lanka. The event was organized by Rev. Fr. Mervyn Fernando and there were also some distinguished guests present at the event. The colloquium commenced with the message of the  Most Rev. Dr. Joseph Spiteri and the key note address was delivered by Judge C. G. Weeramantry delivered his speech on “The Legal and Religio – Ethical Order as the Indispensable Foundation of Human Development, Global and Local“. Responses for the keynote were given by Dr. Jayantha Dhanapala (from the global persepctive) and Fr. Mervyn ( Local Perspective). The second session was interesting because it dealt with the question “Have the Religions Failed?“. Four speakers representing the four main religions of the country were invited to express their thoughts, but simultaneously many from the audience were also invited to share their views.

Now what’s the connection with these topics to Chardin?? Actually, even I was trying to connect the dots during the session. I assumed that it was all gonna be a great chant on Chardin. But… Oh là là, the session turned out to be a gold mine for me 😀 Since tis the season for Thesis’ at the Theologate, I’m doing mine on Active Non – Violence. Some of the valuable pearls which fell off from the Judge’s pockets were,

  • Knowledge

Where he explained the Muslim initiative of, “Ink of the Scholar is holier than the blood of the martyr” to seek knowledge.

  • Justice

No odor of corruption should enter Justice. From the king to the farmer, all are equal! Judge is there to extract the dart of inequity from the wound of the wounded. He also spoke of the “Absurdity of the International Law“. Where everyone joined hands in rejecting the idea of the Dumdum Bullets but at present the powerful countries are given the permission to experiment on Nuclear Power. The statement made by the judge was quite thought provoking, because the decision of the IL was for me, jumping out of the frying pan into the fire. (oooh something rhymes… “dum dum”)

  • Decision Making

This was quite interesting, because he took the example of the Native Americans who made decisions taking into consideration the next 7 generations. But today, be it the next 7 generations, do our leaders or even we go beyond the frame of I, Me and Myself when we make decisions??

Dr. Jayantha who took over next, mentioned the name of the industry that has the highest expenditure. (No points for guessing that!!) Hands down, the award goes to the Military Industry. The 3 main conflicts the world is facing are,

  • Nationalism

The Age of Nations is past. The task before us now, if we would not perish, is to build the Earth“. ~ Chardin

  • Consumerism

The “Equitable Distribution of Income along with growth“. A world where there are no slums and malls standing together. Either all slums or all malls.

  • Terrorism

Another interesting area of venture for me. Dr. Jayantha explained that mere erasing of terrorism from a country or world is not victory over terrorism. One should analyze the root cause which led to terrorism and make sure it’s being solved. It’s like giving pain killers without finding what is causing the pain and treating it. Looking back at the past, back home in Sri Lanka, yes we won the war against the LTTE, but have we analyzed and addressed the issues they raised?

Next the stage was taken over by a hot topic, RELIGIONS! Sri Lanka is a multi religious country which has 4 main religions, Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam and Christianity. Being such a holy country, has Sri Lanka escaped violence? Are the people walking around freely without any fear? Have we escaped terrorism? NO! Most definitely, despite having the giants of religions, Sri Lanka has failed in Peace and won in violence. So the question was, why have religions failed?

For Sri Lankans,our religion is a vital part of our identity. It is almost like another qualification. But most of us have limited the tag of being a Buddhist, Muslim or Hindu to our identity and not assimilated it to our thoughts, words and actions. Either we are extremists in our religions or we are moderates. So the problem is the vast gap between “Precepts and Practices” as Fr. Mervyn mentioned. We limit ourselves to the Sunday worships and don’t want to go  beyond the ceremonies and rituals of our religion to the actual practicing of religion or rather act what you preach.

Dr. Asanga Tillekeratne (Professor of University of Colombo) gave the Buddhist approach to this question.

Do a Self Criticism

  • IDENTIFY your mistakes.
  • ADMIT your mistakes.

Instead of holding on to the traditional views, religions have to reinterpret their doctrines to suit the current context. People have to be taught to THINK, REFLECT!

Taking upon the Muslim viewpoint, Dr. M. Saleem along with his son Mr. Amjad Saleem explained that Islam is a religion that speaks of Peace and Safety as the name implies. With regard to Terrorism, Islam considers that killing a life is equal to killing the entire humanity. What is being preached has to be put into practice.

A non-Hindu, Professor De Silva (Moratuwa University) quoted the Upanishads and the Bhagavad Gita and said,

  1. Do your duty, don’t expect anything
  2. Tell the Truth and tell it with Love

The world needs an awakening. The more we are silent, the more we are responsible of putting the world in trouble.

Taking upon the Christian Role, Fr. Mervyn mentioned 3 steps,

  1. Experience
  2. Constructive Critical Analysis
  3. Mediation

Like in the parable of the Good Samaritan, where Jesus says, “Go and do likewise“, Religion means Action. Doing and experiencing is what matters. The love in doing should be experienced.

So at the end of the day, what is the picture that I got from connecting the dots?? Before this day, I’ve only heard of Chardin, but was never pushed to read or know about him. But on that day, even without speaking about Chardin all the speakers spoke of Chardin. Like Chardin says “Science, philosophy and religion are bound to converge as they draw nearer to the whole“, one should not box themselves. I shouldn’t see Theology, Science, Geography, etc; as different boxes but one round globe; a blend of all colours 🙂