Nonviolence

In the night in which he was betrayed, Jesus freely gave up all power to help himself, giving himself into our hands and choosing to die rather than stop short of the full revelation of the Father’s love. Always bearing about in our bodies the dying of Jesus, we understand that Jesus who did not help himself made himself all ours, who cannot help or cleanse ourselves. We are most like to Jesus then, in his humility, in his allowing and his dying. As the Body of Jesus, then, the Church, our primary mode of orientation in that body is not the triumph of life and self-will, but the joyful truth of our helplessness, the merciful love of Jesus’s death for us, and his saving humility. “Who is greatest among us, who will betray?” These questions of comparison can have no part with us.

In Julian of Norwich: Theologian, Denys Turner writes: “It is perhaps Julian’s central theological insight that sin wages war against love because sin is of its own nature violent, but love wages no wars at all, not even against sin, for love is absolute vulnerability. Love knows no other strategy than that vulnerability. … Sin’s failure to engage perfect love in a contest on sin’s terms of violence and power is sin’s defeat, its power being exhausted by its very success. … The Resurrection, then, is the meaning of the Cross, the meaning that the vulnerability of love, its refusal of the sword, is stronger than sin’s power to kill. That is all we know.”

Jesus shows his true power not by averting or preventing the events of his passion, but by accepting them as they came, transforming evil by love into permanent substantive good. We are taken up by this Eucharist, the memorial of his Passion, and made thereby into Jesus’s Body—ignorant, unforgiving, fearful and betraying as we are. Mingling in that space with the events of his passion we are loved into our own transubstantiation into Christ. The body of our humiliation will become something glorious by the same power of love which raised Jesus from the dead, and which made the passion a strange occasion of joy.

 

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