Jesus Weeps

Jesus arrives near Jerusalem and wept saying, “If only you knew what makes for peace.” Think about it. Let it sink in. Jesus, the nonviolent liberator, the rebel who challenged oppressive earthly authority, wept. He wept because they had missed the point. They had not understood his mission.
For Jesus, peace was not some abstract concept. For him peace was much more than the absence of conflict. Peace was shalom—well being. It was well being for individuals and for society. Peace was justice and right order. “My peace I give you.” Jesus bequeathed his peace to us.
To believe in Jesus is to believe in liberation from oppression and the restoration of peace. Jesus was nonviolent and absorbed evil on the cross. God did not need a sacrifice. God needed someone to go before us that understood turning the other check. God needed someone who meant it when he told Peter to put away his sword. God needed someone who would suffer the ignominy of capital punishment on the cross rather than retaliate. God needed someone who would forgive his persecutors.
When Jesus appeared to the apostles, he did not ream them out for abandoning him. He did not chide them. He did not even ask them why they fled in the night. His initial greeting was, “Peace be with you.”
We cannot say that we believe in Jesus and not believe in his message. His message is nonviolence. In him the medium became the message. The Jesus movement understood this fully. Christians were not to serve in the military. Many were martyred for their adherence to the message of Jesus. In the late 200s, the walls of nonviolence started to crumble. When the church aligned with the empire under Constantine in 313, things changed dramatically. Wanting the absence of conflict—bogus peace—Constantine made sure that the Council of Nicea was convened. His purpose was clear, “Resolve your theological differences.”
Later Ambrose and Augustine would develop the just war theory as a deterrent to excessive violence. For the next 1700 years, the theory, refined by Thomas Aquinas, was used to justify violence and atrocities. Today, given the weapons of modern warfare, many theologians are coming to see that the theory no longer meets moral standards. Recall John Paul II’s earnest entreaties to President Bush not to unleash an immoral, preemptive war on Iraq. Unfortunately, this “emperor” ignored the Pope and violence has begotten violence.
Yes, Jesus is weeping over Washington and London and Moscow and Baghdad and Beirut to name a few. We know not what makes for peace. We profess that we believe in Jesus and turn around and say, “Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition.” During the Cold war era, it was, “Kill a Commie for Christ.” Now it’s guised as the war on terrorism. The president constantly reminds us that we are fighting terrorism over there so we won’t have to fight it over here. The spiral of violence continues. The war on terrorism creates more terrorists because violence begets violence. We have to have an enemy!
As Jesus weeps, he has a dream. “They will turn their swords into plowshares.” It is a complicated political and economic matter. The current American imperialism is supported by militarism. Almost half of our budget goes to “defense.” How can we turn this around? Earnest prayer for true peace is always a good starting point. But, at some point, we must follow the nonviolence of Jesus and strive to create the new earth.
Yes, there are people who will hurt other people and we need to defend life. However, the war on terrorism may better be waged by national and international police forces under the leadership of an international body.
We must reexamine our imperial policies in light of Gospel values and abandon them. We cannot ignore Jesus’ message, “Love one another as I have loved you. “Love your enemies.”
Our economic policies are based on greed and the acquisition of more and more while the oppressed have less and less. Daniel Berrigan would say that our policies are based on “gab and grab.”
As long as we prosper on the backs of the least among us, there will be terrorists. People who are hungry will fight for a piece of the pie. We don’t condone this but we understand the dynamic that has been set into motion.
True peace, which only Jesus can give, depends on radical commitment to his Gospel of nonviolence. We cannot create security. It comes from above. Look at the sparrows and the foxes—God takes care of them and God will take care of us if we trust in her promise and live nonviolently. In the end, we have been promised that every tear, even those of Jesus, will be wiped away.
In the meantime, we have the blueprint for peace—we call it the Beatitudes. John Dear, the Jesuit peacemaker, has written that the translation of the Beatitudes beginning with Blessed may not be on target. He reports that some scholars think that “Walk on” or “Go forth” may be more accurate. With this in mind, here is how he has rewritten the Beatitudes:
Walk forth, you poor in spirit, you humble and powerless. Keep going. Don’t be discouraged by your poverty. The reign of God is yours.
Walk forth, you who mourn the victims of war and hunger. Keep going. You will be consoled.
Walk forth, you meek and gentle and non-violent. Inherit the earth and enjoy the blessing of creation.
Walk forth, you who hunger and thirst for justice. Don’t give up. You will be satisfied. “Justice will roll down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.”
Walk forth, you merciful. Keep showing mercy in a merciless world. Forgive everyone. Be compassionate to everyone. Show mercy to everyone. Mercy will be yours.
Walk forth, you pure in heart. Keep going. Be filled with the light of peace and see Christ in the poor, in the enemy, in one another.
Walk forth, you who make peace. Keep on going. Speak against war. Organize peace vigils. Write Congress, demand the troops come home, work for nuclear disarmament. Become who you are, the sons and daughters of the God of peace.
Walk forth, you persecuted for justice. Keep going. Don’t give up. You stand on the shoulders of Dr. King, Dorothy Day and Mahatma Gandhi. Your reward will be great.
[Retrieved from the National Catholic Reporter, November 23, 2006.]
Yes, let’s WALK FORTH proclaiming Gospel values—peace, love, justice, mercy and forgiveness. Let’s WALK FORTH in the peace only Jesus can give. Let’s WALK FORTH and speak justice to power. Let’s WALK FORTH with hope in our hearts and praise on our lips. Let’s WALK FORTH through the wind and the rain. Let’s WALK FORTH because the nonviolent Jesus is present among us. He was victorious over the power of death and violence. We shall be victorious. We shall overcome!

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