A Man of Peace – Martin Luther King, Jr – 2nd Sunday of Easter

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Today’s excerpt from John’s Gospel uses the phrase, “Peace be with you.” As a matter of fact, the phrase is used three times in the account that includes the story of the doubts of Thomas regarding the Resurrection of Jesus.

We acknowledged this week a man of peace who was assassinated on April 4, 1968 – fifty years ago. Martin Luther King, Jr (January 15, 1929 – April 4, 1968). I’m sure that none of us need to be reminded of his life and legacy. If we do, there is plenty available.

Source: medium.com

What is true – sadly true – is that fifty years after his death, his nation is still far from his dream. We have witnessed far too many reminders in the recent past that for many men and women, the pain just won’t go away – the pain of racism, the pain of exclusion, the pain of poverty, and the pain of being misunderstood.

What is worse is that some of the strongest words contributing to the pain come from the mouths and pens of elected officials, those whose voices have a lot of influence. King’s dream is still a distant reality for many people.

Let’s allow this man of peace to speak for himself. Here are some of his words on freedom and peace.

Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.

Source: americamagazine.org

We must rapidly begin the shift from a “thing-oriented” society to a “person-oriented” society. We live in a materialistic society – a big house, a flashy car, money to spend on holidays in exotic locations – these are the things that most people want. But if we focus more on people and less on things, the world will become a more peaceful place.

We have flown the air like birds and swum the sea like fishes, but have yet to learn the simple act of walking the earth like brothers.

We have created powerful technology to traverse the skies and travel the depths of the ocean, but we’ve forgotten the simple human traits of empathy and compassion.

Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health care is the most shocking and inhumane. Injustice in healthcare shows that government really doesn’t care if poor people die. This shows the unfortunate state of the world that we live in. 

If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.

I have decided to stick to love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.

Source: biography.com

Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.

In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends

Faith is taking the first step even when you can’t see the whole staircase

Source: aleteia.com

The Catholic News Service recently described Pope Francis as an admirer of King.

The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream of a dignified life for all men and women regardless of colour or creed continues to live on in the teachings of one of his most influential admirers, Pope Francis, a Vatican representative said.

Speaking to Vatican News April 3, the eve of the 50th anniversary of Rev. King’s assassination, Archbishop Ivan Jurkovic, Vatican observer to U.N. agencies in Geneva, said both the slain civil rights leader and the head of the Catholic Church have “brought universal attention to a new vision of the world.”

“Of course, Martin Luther King did it in the defense of human rights of the African-American people. The pope, instead, brings a new vision of the church,” Archbishop Jurkovic said.

Rev. King’s legacy of nonviolent resistance to the injustices suffered by African-Americans in the United States, he said, began a “new era” that ushered in “a general development of society and democracy” in the world.

Archbishop Jurkovic said that same Christian-inspired message, echoed by many influential leaders today like Pope Francis, has two important guiding principles that are pertinent in today’s tumultuous political climate.

The first principle “is nonviolence, a principle that has become somewhat problematic today in the face of the many violent actions that surround us. Then there is the principle of universal fraternity: to consider all people as beneficiaries of the same brotherhood,” Archbishop Jurkovic said.

Those principles, he added, not only must remain relevant for those working at a bureaucratic level crafting policy in the United Nations but must be defended by influential leaders in society today.

“Pope Francis does it — he does it in a splendid way — and everyone recognizes the role he has gained in such a short time,” the archbishop said. “The pope believes that the only future worthy of the human person is one that includes everyone.”

Archbishop Jurkovic said that all people must pursue and defend this vision which brought about change through the life and death of Rev. King.

“We can all be happy, but this only comes if all are included, from the last one to the most privileged and vice versa,” he said.

Philip Shano, SJ has many years of rich and varied experience working with Ignatian spirituality: teaching, writing and using it in his ministry. He resides in the Jesuit community in Pickering, Ontario.

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