FAST FOOD (AD 2019): Ninth Helping
The saving act of Jesus is an act of love of the type which He recommends in the Gospels. The power which destroys all other powers is the power of love, the love of God revealed and active in Jesus Christ. God revealed in Jesus that He loves man and will deliver him through love and through nothing else.
The pivot of the Christian moral revolution is love [agape]. This love is the entirely new and unique feature of Christian moral teaching; it is not the center of a moral structure, it is the entire moral structure. I venture to state its totality by saying that in the New Testament an act which is not an act of love has no moral value at all. There is no moral action in Christian life except the act of love, the kind of love which is specifically Christian was so much a novelty that to express its revolutionary significance, it was necessary to infuse new meaning into a Greek word rarely seen in profane literature: “agape.” The power of this love is seen in the death of Jesus; it is seen more fully in His resurrection.
The saving act of Jesus is an act of love of the type which He recommends in the Gospels.
Rev. John L. McKenzie, Premier Catholic Biblical Scholar mid-Twentieth Century
The deed of Nonviolent Love of friends and enemies, as Jesus loved His friends and enemies, is not unrelated to the eternal salvation of one and all. Gospel Nonviolent Love of all under all circumstances is not merely, or even primarily, a temporal political tactic, nor is it a mere never-to-be-achieved ideal of the human imagination.
The deed of Nonviolent Love of friends and enemies, as Jesus loved His friends and enemies, is an act in conformity with the definitively revealed will of God through Jesus—the Incarnate Word of God—which is to be obeyed in this moment and in the next and in the next all the way to eternity by those who call Jesus, “Lord.” The deed of Nonviolent Love of friends and enemies, as Jesus loved His friends and enemies, is participation in the Life of God, Who is love, now, and ending in participation in the Life in God, Who is love, forever for all.
Parenthetically, an act that is logically inconsistent with Gospel Nonviolent Love is neither participation in the Life of God now, nor does it conclude in participation in the Life of God forever.
The absence of an on-going, explicit consciousness in Catholics and in Christians of the ultimate teleological purpose of Jesus’ teaching of Nonviolent Love of friends and enemies is a major incarnational, evangelical, spiritual and moral catastrophe in many, many Christian Churches, and even in many explicitly nonviolent Christian peace and justice ministries. Gospel Nonviolence and its relation to Eternal Life appear to be close to a non-thought in the world of Catholic and Christian Nonviolence—and in the understanding of nonviolence in general.
In T.S. Elliot’s play, Murder in the Cathedral, St. Thomas Becket knowing that some people are out to murder him articulates the last and most severe temptation he faces and must overcome in these words: “The last of these is the greatest treason, to do the right thing for the wrong reason.” With these words he is paraphrasing precisely what St. Paul proclaims in 1 Corinthian 13: 1-3, 13.
Gospel Nonviolence is not merely the absolute rejection of violence, although it includes that. Nor is it possible for it to be solely a political tactic. It is the rejection of violence coupled with “returning good for evil,” with returning of Christlike love to the person(s) perceived to be engaged in evil or about to be engaged in evil. “Love of the type which Jesus recommends in the Gospels” is the power, the only power, that imbues a nonviolent act/action with authentic temporal and transcendental efficaciousness.
-Emmanuel Charles McCarthy