Because today is the anniversary of Gandhi’s birth in 1869, it is also the International Day of Nonviolence.
In their 1983 Pastoral Letter on Peace, The Challenge of Peace, the US bishops wrote some words that may provide us with some challenge and inspiration today as we seek to follow the non-violent Jesus.
111. Moved by the example of Jesus’ life and by his teaching, some Christians have from the earliest days of the Church committed themselves to a nonviolent lifestyle. Some understood the gospel of Jesus to prohibit all killing. Some affirmed the use of prayer and other spiritual methods as means of responding to enmity and hostility.
115. In the centuries between the fourth century and our own day, the theme of Christian non-violence and Christian pacifism has echoed and re-echoed, sometimes more strongly, sometimes more faintly. One of the great non-violent figures in those centuries was St. Francis of Assisi. Besides making personal efforts on behalf of reconciliation and peace, Francis stipulated that laypersons who became members of his Third Order were not “to take up lethal weapons, or bear them about, against anybody.”
116. The vision of Christian non-violence is not passive about injustice and the defense of the rights of others; it rather affirms and exemplifies what it means to resist injustice through non-violent methods.
117. In the twentieth century, prescinding from the non-Christian witness of a Mahatma Gandhi and its worldwide impact, the nonviolent witness of such figures as Dorothy Day and Martin Luther King has had profound impact upon the life of the Church in the United States.
May the God of Peace guide our lives and hearts to live as people of peace.