Memorial of St. Ignatius of
Being a Christian is not for the faint of heart. Although our contemporary American faith life may only expose us at its worst to painful disagreements with children, relatives or politicians, we can be fairly secure in knowing that our Christianity will not lead us to death or exile.
But that was not the case in Jesus’ time, it was not the case for the martyr St. Ignatius whom we honor today, and it is even not the case today in India and Iraq where Christians have been killed or are fleeing for their very lives.
Last night I heard a Jesuit priest speak about his personal commitment to the non-violent Jesus. He has been arrested 75 times for civil disobedience and has served time in jail for his actions. I listened intently, hanging on every word, wishing I could possess that kind of bravery and clarity. But inside me there was also that voice which summoned up all the injustices in the world and said, “Yes, but what about when such and such happens, and there seems to be no other choice…”, and then again, “but what about the need to confront bullies…”, and my internal qualifiers to non-violent actions continued.
It is Jesus Himself who has called upon us to turn the other cheek. It is Jesus who tells us in today’s Gospel, “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but after that can do no more…” St. Ignatius was brought to the Coliseum in
I went home last night knowing I would not have to face down lions. But I also knew I must face down a different "beast." I must have more faith in non-violence even in difficult world arenas, and I must ask myself personally in what corners of my heart am I angry and hurtful, impatient and judgmental? How does the lion inside me wound others? How do I act, even in a small way, with violence in my heart? And is it possible for me to have the courage to speak up against violence without engaging in it myself?
Perhaps today with so many people suffering from hostility and oppression in our world, we can say a humble prayer for non-violent action and for peace, and in the words of the song we have heard a thousand times, “Let it begin with me.”
Nancy Nickel is the Director of Communications for Holy Cross Province