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Justice, Peace, and Non-Violence

To be truly non-violent we need to aid the victim and help the victimizer! All creation is saved and as Christians we need to choose ways to fight against injustice and find alternate methods to violence that will liberate both victim and victimizer.

-Jean Goss

Peace is a gift of God. We have to open ourselves to this gift and give it to others. The Scriptures provided the basis for our reflection. The selected texts reflected moving from a culture of force to a culture of peace, by looking at the violence within ourselves and changing. The first require­ment for an attitude of non-violence toward another is the ability to respect the other as sacred, to live the presence of the other. When we both respect the other and recognize our own limitations, then we see the other as equal and true dialogue can begin.

We also looked at what Scripture teaches us about sharing with others. Jesus is the key that reveals the Old Testament attitude about things, about the Promised Land. The land is nobody's to own. It is to be shared. In Luke, the key word is today--now is the moment. Ask for daily bread today. We need not accumulate. Equality, a fair share, is essential for non-violence. We need to look at one another: all we have, we have recieved and all should have a just share.

"The planet Earth, once molten rock, now sings opera!"

-Brian Swimme, Physicist

What a marvelous observation about evolution and its constant...change.

When our US astronauts captured the photo of Earth from their space ship, the observations, calculations and reflections about our Universe by people like Saint Francis, Copernicus, Galileo, Einstein and Hubble were visible to our eyes. Now we are able to see that we are very much a part of a living, changing organism.

This reality can invite us into new depths of truth. Fifteen billion years ago our story began. The "image of God" that each one of us is, burst forth into being. Fire, hydrogen, helium, oxygen, particles, atoms, molecules, organisms, species, ecosystems, planets, solar systems and galaxies testify to the uniqueness and involvement of God in creation. Three million years ago humans evolved and the complexity of living things deepened as did the ability of women and men to reflect on the process. Teilhard de Chardin, Si' wrote at the beginning of the 20th century, "The human person is the sum total of 15 billion years of unbroken evolution now thinking about itself "

As we moved through history we are now, in the 21st century, at a time when sacred stories and scientific traditions call us to recognize that all creation has a common story. All creation traces its origin to one source and when we feel the awesome beauty of the universe as we observe the glorious colors of a fall season, we celebrate the awesomeness of the Divine Majesty from which the Universe came, and from which it exists today.

Our common origin calls us to not only be sisters and brothers to one another but also to recognize that we are not "lords" over the Earth, but part of it. The global, economic and ecological crises that we are facing are clarion calls for us to reconnect with our Center and devote ourselves to making the changes necessary in our lives so that all can come to the banquet table and listen to--or sing--opera!

In the summer of 1609, when Henry Hudson began chart­ing the lands of what is now New York State, he encoun­tered the Hudson River with its lush vegetation and pristine banks. He must have stood on the river bank, as we have done, transfixed by the magic of the river's grace and beauty and lulled by its flow.

In both Kingston and Rhinebeck, the Hudson River has been a part of our lives. Living on the banks of the river is a special blessing, for the beauty of the river valley invites us to see God's presence everywhere. It also challenges us to reclaim the river.

It is the Word perceived in the eye and the ear reaching the heart that transforms us. Thomas Berry, CP, co-author of The Universe Story  with cosmologist Brian Swimme, observed that many humans see "the universe as a collection of objects rather than a communion of subjects," as things rather than as sacred sources of existence, as separate entities rather than as part of one great organism in which the experience of each affects the life of all. Slowly but surely, we humans are growing in our aware­ness of the interdependence of all of creation on planet Earth. Scientists are discovering that the whole of creation is penetrated at its very roots with a dynamism toward unity.

All things are connected...
we do not weave the web of life,
we are merely strands in it
Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves.

The understanding of the oneness of all creation is fundamental to Christianity. In the Gospel of John, Jesus speaks of our oneness. It is our connectedness with God, with other people and with the whole of creation that shapes and forms our lives. Out of this oneness we live and move and have our being. As we come to understand and value the sacredness and oneness of all creation, we are led to the awareness that we are stewards of a vast, inter­connected web of life. Every action, every breath we draw, every thought we think, has an impact on the world around us. We are challenged by this awareness to care for life in all its diverse forms.

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