“Viewing the mutilated body of the beloved is the most grief-ridden experience of human existence. It is incontrovertible evidence that evil rules. It is an unambiguous testament that in the end it is not the gentle, the nonviolent and the meek who inherit the earth but the cruel, the violent and the tough. Death and the dark side of reality are always the final victors.
The dead body of Christ lying wide-eyed and open-mouthed upon the ground seems to be not only incontestable testimony that all this is true, but also the most conclusive evidence that the cross of nonviolent love does not save—that the Sermon on the Mount is at best clearly wrong, and at worst, a socially irresponsible misleading of people into paths of total destruction.
It is all over! Period. The person is placed in the grave never to be seen nor to see again, never to speak nor to be spoken to again, never to love nor to be loved again. Never! Never! Never! He or she won’t be back. In the end those who choose the way of the of nonviolent suffering love end up like all others—food for worms. Their molecules randomly are irretrievably spread throughout an infinite and indifferent ocean of time and space. Hope of being again is pointless. Personal existence is lost forever.
One last moment. One last touch. One final kiss. A whispered, “I love you— Good-bye forever,” and then the rock is placed over the tomb. Nonviolent Love, like hedonism, Aristotelianism, stoicism and all other philosophies, is ultimately an illusion without real power to save, a faith without any eternal potential or possibilities.
An occupied sepulcher is no more a symbol of hope than a Nazi crematory. The dead body of Jesus, the Jew from Nazareth, is a stark and irrefutable statement and memory of what violence and enmity do to a life, and that a life of Nonviolent Love is not the Way to overcome violence and enmity, evil and death. There is no more to be said and no more that can be done. There is only memory and unbearable suffering to be endured.
(Excerpt from TheStations of the Cross of Nonviolent Love)
The following video, viewer discretion is advised, contains disturbing and graphic images of real casualties of war.
With what magnitude of overwhelming certainty must the truth—that the will of the Father was to nonviolently love (agape) all human beings always—have been in the mind and heart of Jesus on that first Good Friday, that He would choose to be tortured and murdered rather than live some other truth. It was a truth of the Father’s will, which was so beyond doubt that He would choose to die living it rather than to live by abandoning it.
And yet, almost universally the institutional Churches of Christianity, their leaders and most Christians are indifferent towards that same truth of the Father and Jesus. They are breezily dismissive of it, or superficially critical of it, or mindlessly mocking of it, or aggressively hostile to it.
For popes, cardinals, bishops, priests, ministers, pastors and Christians, who follow the Christian custom of rejecting this teaching of Jesus and raising up as a moral equivalent a contradictory teaching, e.g., a Christian justified violence moral theory, Friday of Holy Week is a dangerous memory, if permitted to be remembered fully and accurately. But, it is not as dangerous to soul and body, to self and humanity as forgetting this truth that the Word of God Incarnate explicitly and concretely revealed for all to see that Friday for their redemption—revealed at such great cost in the currency of nonviolent suffering love. Take Jesus’ nonviolent love of all, friends and enemies, out of Good Friday, and replace it with one of the customary Christian substitutes justifying violence and enmity that Church leaders and Christians now hold and teach as an equivalent way of faithfully following Jesus, and Good Friday and all that it reveals of God, His power and His wisdom does not exist.
One would think that something so irremovable and essential for a phenomenon to exist would be equally irremovable and essential whenever the phenomenon and its consequences are referred to or remembered. But, again, almost universally such is not the case in the Churches of Christianity, in the teachings of their leaders or in the minds and hearts of most Christians. Yet, what Jesus knew with certainty was the will of the Father and therefore essential for Him to live on Good Friday in 33 AD, what was equally essential for the Evangelists to record in the Gospels, and what was essential for Good Friday to even exists, is a non-thought in the minds of 95% of Christians today, regardless of their Church or the place they hold in their Church.
Dangerous indeed is the memory of Good Friday for any institution, religious or secular, built and maintained by the brick and mortar of violence and enmity and all the spiritually destructive spirits that they release into that institution. Even more dangerous is the memory of Good Friday for any human life, Christian or non-Christian, built and maintained by the brick and mortar of violence and enmity and all the spiritually destructive spirits they release into the mind and heart of that human life. Dangerous but potentially salvific. For in obliterating all hope that there is any such spiritual reality as redemptive violence, it unambiguously reveals wherein the hope for redemption lies—the nonviolent love of all, in trusting communion with and in trusting imitation of God Incarnate.
It’s hard to find a single website which lists the pre-Vatican II teachings on Sacred Scripture. But, contrary to certain popular beliefs, the Second Vatican Council and it’s Dogmatic Constitution Dei Verbum is not the source and summit of Catholic teaching on the subject!
A long time ago someone commented that the position put forward on this blog (that Christ taught a Way of non-violent love of friends and enemies, and bound His Church and followers to practice such Way) was not consistent with Sacred Scripture. That I was essentially putting God the Father vs Jesus. Which of course is nonsense in lots of ways.
So I am dedicating this post to the question:
Is Gospel Non-violence consistent with Sacred Scripture?
The short answer is yes, of course it is. I’m not making this stuff up, you can read the words of the Divine Lawgiver right here – Mt 5:21-25.
So the question is really, how does a Catholic reconcile Christs teaching of non-violent love of friends and enemies, with the God of the Old Testament.
There are a lot of references, which to an uneducated mind, point towards a homicidal God. A war-approving God. Here’s a few: Gn 6:8; 19:4-5,26; 38:7,9-10. Ex 12:29; 14:28. Lv 10:1-3. Nm 11:1-3,4-35; 14:36-38; 16:27-32,35,49; 21:4-9; 25:9. Js 10:10-11. Ez 16:46-47, 49-50. 1Sm 6:19; 25:38. 2Sm 6:6-7; 12:14-18; 24:13. 1Kn 13:1-24; 14:10-18; 20:35-36; 22:51. 2Kn 1:9-12; 2:23-24; 17:25-26; 19:35. 2Ch 13:20; 21:14-19.
The problem of course, is that the Gospels are conspicuously different. In the Gospels, God is not a perpetrator of violent torture and murder. He is the victim of it. In fact, God in the Gospels expressly forbids it.
So what, did God change His mind? No, God cannot change His mind. He always Was, always Is and always will Be the same. He is the Eternal Constant.
So Sacred Scripture is wrong? No, Sacred Scripture is not wrong. The Prophets of Old were not mistaken in what they wrote. To say that Sacred Scripture can err is one of the manifestations of the heresy of Modernism. It was Pope Leo XIII in his encyclical Providentissimus Deus, who beautifully and comprehensively explained the role of Sacred Scripture – please have a read!
As St Augustine explained in his letter to St Jerome, where there is an inconsistency with Sacred Scripture. It is not God at fault. It is not the inspired author at fault. It is the reader. I am misunderstanding Scripture.
For I confess to your Charity that I have learned to yield this respect and honour only to the canonical books of Scripture: of these alone do I most firmly believe that the authors were completely free from error. And if in these writings I am perplexed by anything which appears to me opposed to truth, I do not hesitate to suppose that either the manuscript is faulty, or the translator has not caught the meaning of what was said, or I myself have failed to understand it.
So, for you Traditional Catholics trying to reconcile the Old Testament with the New. Stop. Read Leo XIII, read St Augustine, and relax. The Gospels are the Gospels. Christ is God. His teachings are Gods teachings.
Please, please please listen to this audio file from Fr Emmanuel McCarthy – “Question and Answers on Gospel Non-Violence – What about violence in the Old Testament?” which so eloquently answers this particular (apparent) conundrum:
I will leave you with this quote on interpretation of Scripture from Leo XIII, which is a gem.
The authority of other Catholic [newer] interpreters is not so great; but the study of Scripture has always continued to advance in the Church, and, therefore, these commentaries also have their own honourable place, and are serviceable in many ways for the refutation of assailants and the explanation of difficulties. But it is most unbecoming to pass by, in ignorance or contempt, the excellent work which Catholics have left in abundance, and to have recourse to the works of non-Catholics – and to seek in them, to the detriment of sound doctrine and often to the peril of faith, the explanation of passages on which Catholics long ago have successfully employed their talent and their labour. For although the studies of non-Catholics, used with prudence, may sometimes be of use to the Catholic student, he should, nevertheless, bear well in mind-as the Fathers also teach in numerous passages(41) – that the sense of Holy Scripture can nowhere be found incorrupt outside of the Church, and cannot be expected to be found in writers who, being without the true faith, only gnaw the bark of the Sacred Scripture, and never attain its pith.
41. Cfr. Clem. Alex. Strom. vii., 16; Orig. de princ. iv., 8; in Levit. hom. 4, 8; Tertull.de praescr. 15, seqq.; S. Hilar. Pict. in Matth. 13, I.
So as a last note to you Traditional Catholics, the Second Vatican Council does not have all the answers regarding Sacred Scripture.
Yes, You have to scrape around for the teachings and traditions regarding our traditional teachings on Sacred Scripture, but they are there!
We can much more effectively argue the Inerrancy of Scripture, the Primacy of the Gospels, and many other points, without ever having recourse to Dei Verbum – Thanks be to God!