By Tony Magliano
Jesus was totally nonviolent. Any serious contextual reading of the Gospel reveals Jesus courageously, prophetically proclaiming the Kingdom of God – often amidst hostile opposition – while never resorting to violence.
“But to you who hear” said Jesus, “love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.”
So then, why does the headline here read, “And so we fight”? Because we, like Jesus, are indeed in a battle. But our response to the battle must not be waged with bullets and bombs; for our ultimate struggle is “not with flesh and blood but with the principalities, with the powers, with the world rulers of this present darkness,” against the spiritual forces of evil – that is, against Satan and his minions.
Therefore, we would be wise to adhere to the firm instruction of St. Paul: “Put on the armor of God so that you may be able to stand firm against the tactics of the devil,” arming ourselves with the invincible spiritual weapons of truth, righteousness, the Gospel of peace, faith, salvation and the “sword of the Spirit,” which is the word of God. And of course, the sacraments, the various forms of prayer, and ongoing good works are also indispensable in our battle against evil (see: Eph. 6:10-17).
But also, we must keep in mind that Satan and his forces of evil, using their powerful weapons of temptation, are very regularly assaulting us. Their aim is to destroy each of us – especially our eternal souls. A short, creatively helpful must-read here is The Screwtape Letters, by the late Anglican lay theologian C.S. Lewis.
But for the forces of evil to be successful, they require our cooperation, they require us to sin – especially to seriously sin.
Even a cursory observation of the world’s state of affairs reveals how much unspeakable harm Satan and his minions have caused – with much of humanity’s cooperation.
From abortion to euthanasia, from individual gun violence to mass shootings, from gang turf battles to national internal armed conflicts, from all-out wars between countries to the real and present threat of global nuclear war, from widespread hunger and poverty to preventable diseases, from homelessness in our cities to refugees at our closed borders, from the modern slavery of human trafficking to child labor, from the pollution of our land, oceans and air to climate change and global warming, countless numbers of human beings clearly appear to be cooperating with the temptations of Satan – or are indifferent to them. In either case, the forces of evil are being allowed to wreak tremendous suffering upon humanity and humanity’s earth-home.
A serious practice for Christians here should be to regularly pray for our ongoing conversions away from all of this sinfulness; to pray for a Gospel metanoia, meaning a total change of mind and heart toward love displayed by goodness, kindness, generosity, justice, nonviolence, peace and grace – that is, toward God.
And we should especially pray for those in government, corporate and social power who are seriously cooperating with the forces of darkness, to instead turn to the light of Christ.
But while prayer is absolutely and indispensably essential in our struggle against evil, our active resistance to those humans who seriously cooperate with evil spiritual principalities and powers, is also absolutely and indispensably essential.
And so we fight!
We fight with the nonviolent weapons of disseminating truthful information, demonstrations at corporate facilities that make weapons of war or promote activities which cause climate change. We peacefully, prayerfully provide an ongoing presence at abortion facilities. And we persistently email and call our political representatives, pressuring them to promote and pass legislation designed to protect all human life and dignity – with no exceptions.
In short, we must nonviolently fight for the vulnerable, poor and the earth. And we must pray that those whose actions we oppose will discover the love of God!
Tony Magliano (firstname.lastname@example.org) is an internationally syndicated Catholic social justice and peace columnist and speaker. He is not a member of the AUSCP. His point of view is his own and not necessarily that of the Association of U.S. Catholic Priests.