Violence Will Not Have the Last Word

Lost for Words

When a compatriot of mine killed fifty people at worship in mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand on 15 March 2019, I had no words for the horror, the anger, the grief, the sadness. No words for the shame that one of us could do such a thing, no words for my steadfast belief that things do not have to be this way. New Zealand Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, found the words to comfort and encourage her people.

The Passion Continues

Again, our hearts are breaking for people killed and many injured while at worship. The final death toll for those killed at churches and hotels on Easter Sunday in Columbo, Sri Lanka is yet to the reckoned.

During Holy Week, just concluded, Christians all over the world walked with Jesus the Way of the Cross. It is a drama that is always unfolding in time and space. As the Easter bombings in Columbo so cruelly remind us, Jesus continues to be crucified today.

Jesus is crucified in the victims of extremism that uses faith as a cover for hate and the lust for power.  Jesus is stripped naked and humiliated in the children and vulnerable adults sexually abused in so many institutional settings, including our church.  Jesus continues to be tortured in each person being tortured right now by political regimes that will not tolerate dissent and which supress human freedom. In these, and so many other ways, the via Crucis goes on. The whole of creation groans in pain from the violence of those who reject the Prince of Peace, as it awaits its resurrection.

Until the fullness of time, it is always Good Friday, but at the same time Easter Sunday.

Finding Words and Actions

As Easter people, Christians know that violence does not have the last word.  Jesus is the Word and his death was not the end of the story. He is alive and active in the world today. Sometimes we catch a glimpse of him in small gestures of kindness – or in grand and hopeful efforts for world peace like the seminar on The Path of Nonviolence recently co-hosted by Pax Christi and the Dicastery for the Promotion of Integral Human Development.

We are called to follow Jesus’ path beyond violence to new life.  When we relinquish violence and vengeance, we refrain from crucifying one another. To be people of the resurrection, we need to find the words and actions that will take the crucified peoples down from their crosses. And we have to stop building crosses. We have to give up our addiction to violence and trust in the Prince of Peace.

As Cardinal Turkson said at the seminar on The Path of Nonviolence:

“Jesus’ resurrection was not a symbol of revenge, but rather a new life that brought the gift of new peace to his community and to the whole of the universe. The resurrection was in fact the ultimate symbol of the victory of love over evil, of active non-violence over violence, of the way of peace over the way of war and vengeance.”

Cardinal Turkson, The Path of Nonviolence Seminar, 4-5 April 2019.

It is the hope of many who participated in the seminar that Pope Francis will find the words to effectively encourage Christian nonviolence in a new encyclical that would further develop Church teaching affirming nonviolence.

Peace Be Upon You

Jacinda Ardern recognised the power of the Arabic greeting As-Salaam-Alaikum, peace be upon you. Peace comes from just and loving relationships with one another, with creation, and with God. It is an insight shared by many faiths.

Let us wish peace upon one another, and work with steadfast love for it at every level.

Sandie Cornish

22 April 2019

Servant Leadership

A guest post by Esmey Herscovitch RSCJ on the Liturgy for the 29th Sunday of Ordinary Time – year B – 21st October 2018

As we begin we remember that we are on Aboriginal land and we acknowledge the lives of those who have gone before us on this land. On 26th October this week we remember the handing back of Uluru to the traditional owners. [Find out more here]

Today we are hearing about the request for honour and status on the part of James and John and the consequent indignation on the part of the other apostles.  It seems that we human beings need constant reminders that our call is to servant leadership, not a call to be on top, or first or having a place of status or honour.

One of the many significant religious paintings in recent years is, in my opinion, this one by Sieger Koder, which shows Jesus washing the feet of Peter.  We do not see the face of Jesus in this except his reflection in the dirty water.  Here we have a perfect illustration of a leader who serves, and Jesus here and in today’s gospel reading is trying to teach us that leadership is about service, not about having status or power or privilege. Pope Francis is a very real example of a leader who serves. Servant leadership will also involve putting ourselves on the line as did Oscar Romero who was canonised recently.  He did drink the cup, was baptised i.e. overwhelmed with suffering, as was the suffering servant in the first reading of our liturgy today, and as Jesus was.   Suffering on the part of Jesus enables us to face our suffering more serenely, knowing that we are not alone in the experience. Certainly the gospel calls challenge us in ways that are very much in opposition to what human nature craves.

Mary’s Contemplative Leadership

Have you ever heard of Mater Admirabilis? Her feast day is on 20 October.

I got to know this well-loved image of Mary when I worked with the Religious of the Sacred Heart. If you visit a Sacred Heart school, you will surely find a version of this image somewhere on campus. If not, just ask “where’s Mater?”

You can read the story of how this image came into being, and how she got her name here.

Mater Admirabilis speaks to me of Mary’s contemplative leadership, of her attentive listening and active response to God’s call, as I explain here. She seems an appropriate patron for the listening stage of the preparation for the Plenary Council of the Catholic Church in Australia in 2020.

Mother Mary, Most Admirable of Disciples,

help us to listen attentively to God’s deep desires for us

and to respond whole-heartedly!


Sandie Cornish