Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to act in accordance with all the law that my servant Moses commanded you; do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, so that you may be successful wherever you go. This book of the law shall not depart out of your mouth; you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to act in accordance with all that is written in it. For then you shall make your way prosperous, and then you shall be successful. I hereby command you: Be strong and courageous; do not be frightened or dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.”
Reflection: When members of Jesus’ hometown synagogue were so infuriated by his preaching that they drove him out of town, intending to throw him off a cliff, “he passed through the midst of them and went on his way” (Luke 4:30). Jesus didn’t try to run away, nor did he try to defend himself with violence. Instead, he seemed to choose a third response. He stood his ground with courage, faced down the angry mob, and made his way through the crowd without striking one blow.
The Peace Discernment Steering Team follows Walter Wink and other scholars who see in Jesus a third way that resists evil through nonviolent means, an approach that outflanks and reverses aggression, sometimes by choosing to suffer. From this perspective, turning the other cheek, offering more clothing than a coat, and going a second mile are examples of the “weaker” party taking the moral initiative and humanizing one’s opponent, “forcing” him or her to recognize one’s own humanity without resorting to violence. This is a strategy with social and cultural implications, potentially breaking cycles of subjugation and humiliation, exposing injustice in power dynamics, and neutralizing and undermining the threat of violence. (Wink, Engaging the Powers: Discernment and Resistance in a World of Domination, (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 1992), 186–187.)
Question for discernment: Have you ever been offered an opportunity to take a bold stand for peace? If so, how did you respond? If not, do you wish you could have such an opportunity?
Prayer: Wherever we go, O God, you are with us. May your abiding presence give us the strength and courage to embrace Jesus’ way of nonviolence in the face of conflict and threatened violence.