“This is the fast I want….” (Isaiah)
This is the fast that I want….a fast from violence, to do no harm, have no tolerance for war and to resist by living with passionate devotion to the Word made flesh in all peoples’ flesh. I want you to fast from all that causes disrespect, disregard, dissension and despair, arrogrance, derision, scorn and a feeling of self-righteousness. We are to remember that the word ‘enemy’ is just another name for what we once were with God, but we were embraced in Jesus’ passion, death and resurrection. The death of Jesus is the ultimate and extreme expression of the peace of passion spent totally.
This is the foundation of other practices. This is the peace of Chrsit, Pax Christi. Begin by “denying your very self” (Mk 8) so you won’t deny Christ’s peace or do harm or violence to anyone, instead, bow before others, bow down to your knees and serve, and give your life as a ransom for many.
This is what it means to be kin to Jesus, to be a disciple. We vow to live under no sign of power but the Sign of the Cross! So we vow—to practice forgiveness, amnesty reconciliation, mercy, love of our enemies, to love one another as we have been loved by God in Jesus, to live at-one-ment, to live free from fear and hate and do no violence and harm no one, or the earth.
This Lent we are summoned to “lower your standards” which originally meant to “put down your arms!” (William Stafford, in EARLY MORNING: REMEMBERING MY FATHER, by Kim Stafford, Grafwolf Press, Minneapolis, Mn. 2002) The cards that image the ‘peaceable kingdom’ of Christmas must become reality in Lent—where “the lion and the wolf lie down with the lamb and the child sits by the alder’s lair” (Is.), the sign of the Peace of God among us. Truly that was one very restrained or disciplined wolf and one very courageous lamb. But it was the presence of the Peace of God in Christ that was and is and always will be the source of power for such a practice, such a life-style that becomes a permanent gift in our world.
- Pray for those you still name-call enemies.
- Pray for those who insist on using war to react to problems around the world or to deal with their sense of fear and anger in retaliation to others’ actions.
- Join Pax Christi USA, the Catholic Church’s national and international peace movement See http://www.paxchristiusa.org
- Practice regard for strangers, foreigners, immigrants and others in our society.
- Sign yourself with the Sign of the Cross and reflect upon that power of the Peace of Christ, the embrace of God and the Trinity.
Let us walk in this way, the way of the Cross, the way of Peace and non-violence. And then come Easter—“under cherry trees there are no strangers” (Kobayashi Issa) and under the cross there are no enemies, all are found to be the friends of God. We pray to live ‘in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.’
Writer, storyteller, preacher, ambassador of peace, Pax Christi, USA