By Fr Emmanuel Mccarthy
“This is the kind (of unclean spirit) that can be driven out only by prayer and fasting.”
An Invitation to Fast for the Truth of Gospel Nonviolence
Jesus Christ is the incarnation of the only true God who is Agapé, Unconditional Love, Unending Forgiveness and Everlasting Mercy toward all without exceptions. The person who accurately sees Jesus sees God, for Jesus and God are One. It is the Spirit of this God which is life giving. It is this God in whose image and likeness we are formed. There is no other God. All that is not of the only true God is idolatry and death.
The God of the New Testament, the God who dwells fully in Jesus Christ, the only true God is not a warrior God who will lead people in historical victories over enemies. The Way of Jesus is not the way of violence, retaliation and enmity. The Way of the Jesus of the Gospel is the way of nonviolent love. What Jesus taught by word and deed for times of common affairs, as well as times of crises, is nonviolence, non-retaliation, love of enemy, forgiveness seventy times seven, return of good for evil—mercy. Since God is love and Christ is God, to live in the life of God is to obey Jesus’ new commandment “to love one another as I have loved you.” This means that the Christian—the one who says he or she desires to follow Jesus—commits herself or himself wholeheartedly to following Jesus, who did not use violence and who did not threaten the use of violence, but chose instead—even under the threat of lethal violence—to overcome evil with good. Jesus Christ is the truth of God and nonviolent love of friends and enemies is the truth of Jesus Christ.
Therefore, it must be said clearly, and again and again, that violence is not the Gospels’ Way, violence is not the Christian Way, that violence is not the Apostolic Way, that violence is not the Way of Jesus, that violence is not the Way of God. It must be said clearly, and again and again, that this does not mean that only nuclear war and induced abortion are contrary to the way of Jesus—but all violence and retaliation, even culturally condoned, indeed honored, violence and retaliation, are contrary to the way of Jesus. Therefore an activity that cannot be conducted without violence or an end that cannot be achieved without violence is an activity or an end that cannot be conducted or achieved by the followers of Jesus Christ.
The Churches’ and humanity’s mutiny against mercy must cease. Jesus’ teaching is clear. Christ authorized no one to substitute violence for merciful love toward friends or enemies. As the renowned biblical scholar, Rev. John L. McKenzie, concludes, “If Jesus did not reject any type of violence for any purpose, then we know nothing of Him.”
The god, who endorses, supports or commands war is not the God of Christlike mercy. All the ways of God are mercy. In the Incarnation of Mercy in the Nonviolent Jesus, God’s Being, which is from eternity to eternity outside of time and beyond the world, unfolds itself in time and before the world. Mercy is what God is. Mercy is why we are. Mercy is what we need. Mercy is what God wants. Mercy is the supreme attribute of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. The Way of Christlike Mercy, not the way of violence, is the path of our pilgrimage to the Absolute.
Yet, since the fourth century most Christians have not proclaimed that violence is not the Christian Way, that violence is not the Catholic Way, that violence is not the Apostolic Way, that violence is not the Way of Jesus. In fact, during the last 1700 years, at one time or another, Christians have justified as consistent with the Way of Jesus participation in such activities as war, capital punishment, torture, the burning of heretics, witches and homosexuals, colonialism, violent enmity-creating nationalism, violent revolution, abortion, genocide, wife-beating, child-beating, torture, terrorism, etc. The spiritually symbolic low point of this false proclamation of the Gospel—this incarnational heresy— occurs on August 9 in the years of Our Lord during World War II.
On that day of Our Lord in 1942 Christians in Auschwitz, Poland—because of the nurturing they received in their Churches—believed they were following the Way of Jesus when they destroyed Edith Stein, Saint Teresia Benedicta of the Cross, in a gas chamber. On that day of Our Lord in 1943 Christians in Berlin, Germany—because of the nurturing they received in their Churches—believed they were following Jesus when they beheaded Blessed Franz Jagerstatter, a Christian who refused to join Hitler’s military. On that day of Our Lord in 1945 Christians from the United States—because of the nurturing they received in their Churches—believed they were following Jesus when they evaporated the people of Nagasaki, the oldest and the largest Christian community in Japan.
Today, as for most of the last 1700 years, most Christians continue to be nurtured by their Churches and their Churches’ leadership to justify as consistent with the teaching of the Jesus of the Gospels those energies, understandings, emotions and spirits which lead inevitably to August 9. Today most Christian Churches still do not unequivocally teach what Jesus unequivocally taught on the subject of violence and enmity. Today most Christian leaders and most Christians obstinately continue to proclaim that violence is the Christian Way, that violence is the Apostolic Way, that violence is the Way of Jesus. They are eternally dead wrong! They are destructively spreading untruth as the salvific truth taught by Jesus. They are, to date, an unstoppable spiritual and moral catastrophe in the Church and for all humanity.
It is because of this tragic and sorrowful fact that this Forty Day Fast is undertaken again this year. This Fast is a call to the Christian Churches, to Christian Church leaders and to individual Christians to repent and turn to the Christ and learn what the Father’s will is and how to live it in relation to the diabolic spirits of violence and enmity. It is a call to learn from Him who unambiguously teaches by courageous words and by costly deeds the Way of Nonviolent Love of friends and enemies as the Way of God and the Way of authentic discipleship.
This Fast is a prayer that the Universal Church will gather in Ecumenical Council on some August 9 in the not too distant future and declare once and for all that violence is not the Gospels’ way, that violence is not the Christian way, that violence is not the Apostolic way, that violence is not the Holy way, that violence is not the way of Jesus, and with this declaration disassociate Herself forever from the gods, philosophies and politics of homicide and be for all humanity the extension in time and space of the Nonviolent Jesus Christ, who unambiguously teaches, as the Way of the Father and as His Way, a Way of Nonviolent Love of all—friends and enemies—with no time-outs and no exceptions.
Please pray and fast as you are able. The smallest, mustard seed effort done in Christic love to bring Jesus’ salvific truth, life and love to humanity will be honored by God and will be fruitful beyond all calculation and measure.
Submitted for your personal and merciful meditation in Christ-God, amidst the anguish and absurdity of a world being mercilessly crucified daily by humanly created and religiously endorsed violence and enmity.