Annual forty day fast for the Truth of Gospel Nonviolence – Day 31

FAST FOOD: Thirty-First Helping

Is withholding knowledge and/or information a Christian needs to make a moral decision, that is to do the will of God as revealed by Jesus, morally permissible in Christianity?

He said these things while teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum. On hearing it, many of his disciples said, “This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?” . . . From this time many who were his disciples turned back and no longer followed him

(Jn 6:60, 66)

Jesus never wanted to drive away people, let alone drive His disciples away. Yet, that was exactly what happened when Truth Incarnate told people the truth. Jesus did not seek unity or a large following at the expense of truth. He sought unity and community in the truth. He did not try to attract followers by withholding the truth from them, and thereby making discipleship more culturally acceptable and more psychologically, emotionally, philosophically, economically, politically and theologically palatable. Jesus spoke to his listeners in terms of what He knew they really were, namely, sons and daughters of the Father in whose image and likeness they were created. He spoke to them as human beings who could not save themselves from evil—not as people who needed the evil in which they were ensnared religiously validated as the will of God by Him.

Countless times over the last forty-six years of trying to call the Churches back to teaching what the Nonviolent Jesus of the Gospels taught about violence and enmity, I have been told—by bishops, priests, ministers and pastors, male and female, heterosexual and homosexual, black, white or yellow, by leaders of reform movements within the various Churches and even by leaders of Christian Peace and Justice organizations—some configuration of the following:

“I agree that the Nonviolent Love of friends and enemies is what Jesus taught. It is His Way. I know that the absurdity called “Christian” just war theory cannot be found in or logically derived from anything Jesus ever said or did. But I can’t say that to my Christian community. I would lose half my congregation before the sun went down. It would divide my parish (diocese) like nothing else could. I can’t teach that. It would destroy my Church. Jesus does not want that. And, I am not going to let that happen!”

The three negative assumptions behind such a statement are first of all a human calculation that “My people are not ready to hear this. It is too much for them to deal with.” Secondly, that it is good, proper and right to keep a Christian community together by lying to it via intentional omission and thereby permitting its members to do in clear conscience the opposite of what Jesus called them to do. And, thirdly, that the Word of God which “is living and effective, sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating even between soul and spirit, joints and marrow, and able to discern reflections and thoughts of the heart” (Heb 4:12), cannot make a Christian congregation, community, organization or diocese ready and able to deal with the Gospel truth of Nonviolent Love of friends and enemies by ways and means beyond human imagination. “The radical reality of the Gospels is the reality of grace,” writes the Biblical scholar Rev. John L. McKenzie as noted in the previous FAST FOOD Helping, “and there is just no calculating what grace can do,”

There is, then, never a need to eliminate anything that God, who is love (agape), communicates to the world through His Son, the Incarnation of Love (agape), for us and for our salvation. All of God’s communications through the Jesus of the Gospels, His Word made flesh, are grace. For a Christian to think and/or act otherwise is to be conned by the Prince of this world—“who is a murderer and a liar from the beginning” (Jn 8:44)—into abusing and wasting the gift of life and the gift of faith in Jesus Christ as Lord, God and Saviour, the Way, the Truth and the Life.


RELATED ARTICLES

FAST FOOD: Thirtieth Helping

Annual forty day fast for the Truth of Gospel Nonviolence – Day 30

FAST FOOD: Thirtieth Helping

True or false:

A bishop, priest, minister or pastor can morally withhold the proclamation of the Gospel, or some portion thereof, if proclaiming it would cause discomfort for a person or a group?

A bishop, priest, minister or pastor can morally—that is, in conformity with the teaching of Jesus who in His great commission to the Church commanded, “teach them to obey all that I have commanded you” (Mt 28:19-20)—refuse to proclaim a part of the Gospel because, if the withheld section were known, it would demand serious alteration to a person’s or a group’s value system, sense of meaning, economic existence, relationships and/or his or her willingness to support the bishop, priest, minister or pastor who told them the whole Gospel truth?

It is better to have a great deal of financial assistance to proclaim a partial gospel, than to have only a little financial assistance to proclaim the entire Gospel?

Proclaiming only the content of the Gospel that your Church’s, or your Christian organization’s, financial support system will tolerate being proclaimed before withholding its funds, is prudence, good old common horse sense?

“If the Roman Catholic Church were to decide to join the Mennonites in refusing violence, I doubt whether our harmonious relations with the government would endure the day after the decision. I believe that both here and elsewhere the Church can avoid persecution by surviving as it has so far, that is by being the lackey of the establishment of wealth and power, that is, by not being the Church…From the beginning of the Church we have observed that the proclamation of the Gospel has been risky. The risk is never an excuse for suppressing the Gospel. Jesus said that the proclaimer must have trust in the Father, who can do things impossible to diplomacy. The radical reality of the Gospels is the reality of grace and there is just no calculating what grace can do.”

John L. McKenzie, Catholic biblical Scholar


RELATED ARTICLES

FAST FOOD: Twenty-Ninth Helping

Annual forty day fast for the Truth of Gospel Nonviolence – Day 29

FAST FOOD: Twenty-Ninth Helping

“Through the Eucharist the deity is rendered present in a striking and unique fashion. Communion is achieved only through Jesus Christ, who is Man and as Man is Body. The Body is therefore rendered really present; the language of the four sources on the institution of the Eucharist (Mt 26:26-29;Mk 14:22-25; Lk 22:15-20; 1 Cor 11: 23-25; Jn 6) leave no room for mere symbolism in this respect.”

-John L. McKenzie, Dictionary of the Bible: Eucharist

Question: How does a Christian know that Holy Communion is really the body of Christ? If he or she rejects the authority of the Jesus of the Gospels when Jesus teaches a Way of Nonviolent Love of friends and enemies, has not he or she rejected the same authority that tells him or her that the Host they have come forward to receive is the Body of Christ? If a Christian cannot say, “Amen,” to Jesus’ teaching and Way of Nonviolent Love of friends and enemies—which is the clearest of teachings by Jesus in the Gospels—how can he or she say, “Amen,” to the offer of the Body of Christ at Holy Communion?

Or, can such Christian just break off a piece of the Host offered to them before receiving Communion and hand it back to the Eucharistic minister—symbolizing thereby their non-belief in the authority of Jesus’ teaching of Nonviolent Love of friends and enemies—and only then say, “Amen,” to receiving the Body of Christ? This would be terrific personal and communal symbolism, if the Consecrated Bread were mere symbolism.


RELATED ARTICLES

FAST FOOD: Twenty-Eighth Helping

Annual forty day fast for the Truth of Gospel Nonviolence – Day 28

FAST FOOD: Twenty-Eighth Helping

The earliest account of the institution of the Lord’s Supper is by St. Paul. It reads as follows:

For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, that the Lord Jesus, the same night in which he was betrayed, took bread. And giving thanks, broke, and said: Take ye, and eat: this is my body, which shall be delivered for you: this do for the commemoration of me.

In like manner also the chalice, after he had supped, saying: This chalice is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as often as you shall drink, for the commemoration of me.

For as often as you shall eat this bread, and drink the chalice, you shall shew the death of the Lord, until he come. Therefore whosoever shall eat this bread, or drink the chalice of the Lord unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and of the blood of the Lord. But let a man prove himself: and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of the chalice. For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh judgment to himself, not discerning the body of the Lord.

 (1 Cor 11: 23-29)
Douai Rheims

“The meaning of the formula, “Do this in remembrance of me,” in this context is determined by verse 26 “you proclaim the Lord’s death.” The death of Jesus, which is an act of love, is proclaimed existentially in and through the eating and drinking. Authentic remembering is imitation of Christ, whereby God’s saving love is made present effectively in the world. From this perspective it is clear why the comportment of the Corinthians [refusing to share their bread with other Christians who did not have enough to eat] made an authentic Eucharist impossible. If participants in the Eucharistic meal are not united in love, they class themselves among those who murdered Jesus”

(emphasis added).
The New Jerome Biblical Commentary on 1 Corinthian 11:23-29
Catholic Commentary on the Bible (Imprimatur 1988)

“Jesus taught that violence belongs to the Reign of Satan, and that men must expel violence if they wish to liberate themselves from the Reign of Satan. If Jesus did not reject any type of violence for any purpose, then we know nothing of him.”

Rev. John L. McKenzie, Catholic Biblical Scholar

“Become what you receive, receive what you are.”

St.Augustine on the proper disposition for the reception of Holy Communion

What is the correct name to be placed on this normal, commonly occurring, traditional Christian activity: a group of Christians with their Christian military chaplain celebrating the Eucharist at 9.00am on the east side of a battle line, while another group of Christians with their military chaplain is celebrating the Eucharist at 9.00am on the west side of a battle line, with both groups intending to go forth and slaughter each other at 11.00am?

Would it make any spiritual difference, or difference to Jesus, if the group on the east side was not Christians and was therefore not celebrating the Eucharist at 9.00am?


RELATED ARTICLES

FAST FOOD: Twenty-Seventh Helping

Annual forty day fast for the Truth of Gospel Nonviolence – Day 27

FAST FOOD: Twenty-Seventh Helping

Noam Chomsky is neither a Christian nor a pacifist. He does, however, know a thing or two about words, grammar, rhetoric, logic, phrases, clauses, sentences, nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, etc. He is Institute Professor and Professor in the Department of Linguistics at Massachusetts Institute of Technology for over fifty years. Chomsky is considered the “father of modern linguistics.” He knows how to read and interpret texts. He says,

The Gospels are radical pacifist documents never very popular among the powerful, including Rome…The contents of the Gospels are mostly suppressed (in the U.S.); they are a radical pacifist collection of documents. It [Christianity] was turned into the religion of the rich by the Emperor Constantine, who eviscerated its content. If anyone dares to go back to the Gospels, they become the enemy.

I would only add: Also never very popular in Constantinople, Canterbury, Moscow, and Geneva (World Council of Churches headquarters); and not only suppressed by the Churches in the U.S. but also in Russia, England, every country in the European Union, Latin America, South America, Africa and Australia.

Let’s now listen to a Christian on the same subject—Stanley Hauerwas, Professor of Theological Ethics at Duke Divinity School, who was the first American in forty years invited to give the prestigious Gifford Lectures in theology and who was named by Time Magazine “America’s best theologian:”

Nonviolence is not one among other behavioural implications that can be drawn from the Gospel but is integral to the shape of Christian convictions. Indeed, nonviolence is not just one implication among others that can be drawn from our Christian beliefs; it is at the very heart of our understanding of God. If we do not think it possible to love our enemies then we should plainly say Jesus is not the Messiah.

So the issue behind the issue of Jesus’ teaching a Way of Nonviolent Love of friends and enemies is the most serious of faith issues, not a lack of clarity on Jesus’ part or by the authors of the Gospels. What Jesus teaches is clear; the issue is, “By what authority does He teach it?” Depending on the answer to that question, a person chooses obedience to what Jesus taught or evaluation of what Jesus taught and whether it is applicable or not to his or her life. If a Christian, however, says “Amen” after being offered the Body of Christ at Holy Communion, then he or she is publicly saying that Jesus is the Messiah, the Christ, the Son of the living God, and by that fact that what He teaches is the will of the Father and possible.

Become what you receive, receive what you are.” -St. Augustine on the proper disposition for the reception of Communion

If a Christian, when receiving Holy Communion, is committed to being or becoming a lean, mean, killing machine in some military organization, what is the correct name or word for what he or she is doing when they say, “Amen,” to receiving the Body of Christ at Holy Communion?


RELATED ARTICLES

FAST FOOD: Twenty-Sixth Helping

Annual forty day fast for the Truth of Gospel Nonviolence – Day 26

FAST FOOD: Twenty-Sixth Helping

The Eucharist is the memorial, which Christ gave us on the eve of his death, when he said, “Do this in memory of me.” It is the solemn assurance of his abiding, life- giving presence—“ I shall be with you.” — bringing us into intimate contact with his saving sacrifice: “This is my body given for you, my blood shed for you.” It provides a redeeming entrance into the company of the “Lamb of God” who destroys the vicious circle of violence, enmity, and treachery.

New Testament leaves no doubt that Jesus was and understood himself explicitly to be that Servant of whom the four songs in Isaiah speak (42:1-4; 49:1-6; 50:4-9; and 52:13-53:12). He is the Servant who suffers like a lamb and by his gentleness breaks the deadly circle of violence. He bears the horrifying burden of the world’s transgressions, and opens the way for a saving solidarity and peace. At the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan (Mt 3:16-17), “a voice from heaven was heard saying, ‘This is my Son, my Beloved, on whom my favor rest ” (Isaiah 42:1). And, it is John the Baptizer who points to Jesus, saying,. “Behold the Lamb of God; it is he who takes away the sin of the world.”(John 1.29).

The whole Eucharistic memorial exhorts us to “behold the Lamb of God!” It urges us to learn from him who is meek, nonviolent, humble, and thus points out the way of peace.

The Lamb of God turns our eyes and hearts to his ways of loving forgiveness. He rescued even his enemies, the sinners, by his life and death; he shows us the healing power of nonviolence as the expression of redeeming love for those who oppose him, and his disciples. He alone, in whom there is no violence, and no treachery, can deliver us from the solidarity of sin and lead us into the solidarity of salvation… It is not possible to speak of Christ’s sacrifice while ignoring the role of nonviolence. Jesus is Nonviolence Incarnate.

-Bernard Haring, C.Ss.R., the premier Catholic moral theologian of the 20th century.


RELATED ARTICLES

FAST FOOD: Twenty-Fifth Helping

Annual forty day fast for the Truth of Gospel Nonviolence – Day 25

FAST FOOD: Twenty-Fifth Helping

“Thanks to the Eucharist, God’s absolute ‘no’ to violence, pronounced on the cross, is kept alive through the centuries. The Eucharist is the sacrament of non-violence. With his sacrifice, Christ defeated violence, not opposing it with greater violence, but suffering it and laying bare all its injustice and uselessness. He inaugurated a new kind of victory”

(emphasis added).
-Raniero Cantalamessa, O.F.M. Cap.
Official Preacher to the Papal Household, (1981 to 2013)

He holds doctorate degrees in Classical Literature (Milan, 1965) and in Theology (Fribuorg, 1962). He was a member of the International Theological Commission of the Catholic Church 1975-1981. He has been a priest for over fifty years.

Excerpt is from the Third Lenten Sermon, to the Pope, the Cardinals, Bishops and prelates of the Roman Curia and the general superiors of Religious Orders, March 11, 2005.


RELATED ARTICLES

FAST FOOD: Twenty-Fourth Helping