Behold the Nonviolent One

THE RUSSIAN MYSTIC ST. SERAPHIM WRITES, "IF YOU have inner peace, thousands of people around you will be saved." St. Seraphim makes it sound so simple. Yet all of us know that to become a person who radiates such intense beams of redemptive peace is not a simple task. It takes, in fact, a lifetime of concentration to become a true peacemaker, a peacemaker like the one described in this story.

It is said that when the Chinese invaded Tibet, many of the soldiers were very cruel toward the conquered people. They were especially harsh and mean-spirited toward the monks. When the Chinese invaders arrived at one village, the village leader approached them and said, 'All of the monks, hearing of your approach, fled to the mountains ... all of the monks, that is, but one.'

The commander raged out of control. He marched to the monastery, kicked in the gate, and sure enough, in the courtyard stood the one remaining monk. The commander approached the monk and screamed, 'Do you know who I am? I am he who can run you through with a sword without batting an eyelash.'

The monk gently, but steadily, gazed at the commander and replied, 'And do you know who I am? I am he who can let you run me through with a sword without batting an eyelash
.'

The monk is my model of a peacemaker. Behold the nonviolent one: disarmed, centered, vulnerable, detached, unafraid of death.

The question the monk poses for us is this: How do we become people of peace? How do we become a church of nonviolence? What experiences in life, what methods of prayer prepare us to stand disarmed? Jesus, I think, shows us a way to become a people of peace.

In the Sermon on the Mount he offered the beatitudes as steps toward a disarmed heart. The beatitudes, in other words, might be seen as a series of stages that Christians must pass through if their spirituality is to mature and deepen to the point of total disarmament.

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