How Mary Taught Jesus the Path of Nonviolence | Sojourners

How Mary Taught Jesus the Path of Nonviolence

Luke’s gospel shows Jesus learned about peace from the best.
The illustration shows Mary illuminated by a ray of light wearing a white robe and cape with a red ribbon. She is holding one hand to her heart and the other is raised in a nonviolent protest. Behind her are three unnamed figures in white robes.
Illustration by Leonardo Santamaria 

MOST CHRISTIANS TODAY do not understand the life and teachings of Jesus as a broad vision of daring nonviolence. But scripture gives convincing evidence for this: The gospel of Luke presents Jesus as the God of peace who comes among us in total poverty into our impoverished world of war and empire, who brings with him God’s reign of peace and nonviolence, and who invites us to follow him on the path of love, compassion, and justice. With his birth, we hear the angels announce the coming of peace on earth.

Jesus, the greatest peacemaker in history, marked the path of peace toward Jerusalem, where he confronted imperial injustice and called us to learn the things that make for peace; he endured rejection, betrayal, torture, and execution in the holy spirit of nonviolence, and rose to offer his gift of peace and send us out all over again on his path of peace.

How did Jesus learn all this? Luke’s gospel offers an amazing answer. The writer presents Mary, Jesus’s holy Jewish mother, as his teacher of nonviolence.

Luke tells the story of Mary’s journey as three movements of creative nonviolence: the first, the Annunciation as a story of contemplative nonviolence, which leads to the second, the Visitation as the story of active nonviolence, which leads to the third, the Magnificat as the vision of prophetic nonviolence.

Movement 1: Contemplative nonviolence

THE ANNUNCIATION IS a scene of contemplative prayer in which Mary communes with the God of peace; in that silence and stillness, she encounters, and is ready for, God. Jesus learned this from his mother. We will see this in Jesus’s first public appearance when he sits by the Jordan River after his baptism and, in that contemplative peace, hears the God of peace call him “My beloved,” which sets him on his journey.

The first lesson of Lucan nonviolence is to sit in silence and solitude, in contemplative prayer, to open ourselves to God, to listen for God, and to be available if the God of peace chooses to speak. As Mary would have known, the first step in a peaceful life is to spend time in peace with the God of peace, to let God speak to us, to be ready if God sends us forth as peacemakers into the world of war.

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The cover depicts an illustration of Palestinian peace activist Ali Abu Awwad with the colors of the Palestinian and Israeli flags in the background, and Hebrew and Arabic words for nonviolence and peaceful resistance respectively.
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