Season of Peace Reflection for 9/28

Owe no one anything, except to love one another; for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery; You shall not murder; You shall not steal; You shall not covet”; and any other commandment, are summed up in “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore, love is the fulfilling of the law.

Reflection: The history of Christian responses to violence tells a compelling story of the initial embrace of the nonviolent witness of Jesus. Early Christians in Rome refused to engage in any violence because they trusted that their love for fellow citizens would point people to the new day dawning in Jesus Christ (Justin Martyr, First Apology, 14.3; Origen, Against Celsus, 8.68, 75; Arnobius, Against the Nations, 1.6). The first Christians lived according to a nonviolent code, with frequent martyrdom.

Christians today who interpret the apostle Paul as giving divine sanction to violence and war (Rom. 13:4) can ignore neither the history of the early church nor Paul’s own words immediately before and after that passage about caring for enemies, overcoming evil with good, and fulfilling the law through loving others (Rom.12:2021, 13:810). Indeed, recent scholarship indicates that the letters of Peter, Paul, and other authors call for Christians to adopt a new behavior toward those who do harm to them (Rom. 12:14–21; 1 Peter 3:9–19; James 3:13—4:3). Though generally poor and powerless, these early Christian communities were also vibrant and threatening to the Roman Empire and its institutions of slavery and expansionist war.

Question for discernment: Why would early Christians’ love of neighbor be threatening to the Roman Empire? Is it possible that our own love of neighbor today might be threatening to the national interests of the US?

Prayer: O God, we want to be your faithful people. We want to follow your commandments. So may we love our neighbors as ourselves, thereby fulfilling the law.


[2] New York Times Magazine, March 28, 1999, 40

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