Non-Violence and Compassion are the teachings of Jesus Christ

Non-Violence and Compassion are the teachings of Jesus Christ
Highlights

Whoever takes up the sword shall perish by the sword. And whoever does not take up the sword (lets it go) shall perish on the cross,” says Simone Weil. These words remind us of Jesus. One just cannot imagine a picture of Jesus with any weapon of destruction. The images of divine warfare are found practically in every religion. However, these are not to be misunderstood.

Whoever takes up the sword shall perish by the sword. And whoever does not take up the sword (lets it go) shall perish on the cross,” says Simone Weil. These words remind us of Jesus. One just cannot imagine a picture of Jesus with any weapon of destruction. The images of divine warfare are found practically in every religion. However, these are not to be misunderstood.

These are symbolic battles between good and evil forces. Mark Jurgensmyer in ‘Terror in the Mind of God’ holds that “such struggles are battles against the most chaotic aspect of reality: death...The irony of these bloody images is that the object of faith has always been peace...For that reason, religion has been order-restoring and life-affirming” despite depictions of violence in some cases. However, Jesus preferred to give his own life to restore harmony and peace.
When we look at Jesus' life we see him as a violence-absorber. He asks his disciple to put the sword in the sheath, for “all who take the sword will perish by the sword”. He would say “Your burnt offerings are not acceptable, nor are your sacrifices pleasing to me”. He is not the one to whom the sacrificial lamb is offered but rather he becomes a sacrificial lamb.
All through his ministry Jesus had restored defective human bodies; hence, he obviously would not advocate violence that hurts and maims. He rebuked Peter for using his sword to cut the ear of the slave. He tells Peter that violence is not to be reacted with violence. In fact Jesus is saddened at the sight of weapons that the crowd had carried to arrest him. Hence, he asks them, “Have you come out with swords and clubs to arrest me as though I were a bandit?'”Compassion, love and prayers were his responses to violence. With a short injection 'Do good to them that hate you' he suggests remedy for violence.
Jesus considered violence as a violation. When the Pharisees brought an adulterous woman to him with the stones in their hands he told them that stone-pelting was not a solution to change someone's unethical behaviour, rather transformation of their own stony hearts was the solution. Compassion for transformation was his mantra. The Pharisees sought justification for bloodless violence in their sacred texts like the Law of Moses. He rejected the bloodless violence against human dignity contained in the Law of Moses by breaking the law of Sabbath. “Sabbath is for man, man is not for Sabbath” was his slogan against the oppressive laws of Pharisees. The purpose of his coming into the world was to give life. “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.”
Peace was his message. Jesus asked his disciples to be harmless even in the midst of harmful company. “See, I am sending you out like sheep into the midst of wolves; so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves”. He wanted to establish a kingdom where nations “shall beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; no nation shall lift up sword against another nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.” Weapons used for violence had to be turned into instruments for agricultural use. In short, by turning weapons of destruction for domestic use, one is exhorted to “domesticate” violence. We shall not have peace by destroying life; it is only by destroying death that we will have peace.
By: Shailendra Rodrigues
(The writer is a catholic priest).
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