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The Heart of Christian Peacemaking

This past weekend I attended the Catholic Peace Fellowship conference in South Bend, Indiana, "Neither Left nor Right: The Heart of Christian Peacemaking." It was a quietly powerful event.

It was moving to hear CPF cofounders Jim Forest and Tom Cornell talk about gospel non-violence, working with Thomas Merton and Dorothy Day to start Catholic Peace Fellowship, and the fundamental contradiction of loving one's enemies with one hand while killing them with the other.

Several of the conference attendees went on to protest the military presence at the University of Notre Dame. Within minutes they were disbanded by university police.

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"Several of the conference attendees went on to protest the military presence at the University of Notre Dame. "Hmm. Maybe their version of the New Testament is missing Matthew 8.

Stuart - Care to elaborate? Anna - I really wanted to go to this.

5 When he entered Capernaum, a centurion approached him and appealed to him, 6 saying, "Lord, my servant is lying at home paralyzed, suffering dreadfully." 7 He said to him, "I will come and cure him." 8 The centurion said in reply, "Lord, I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof; only say the word and my servant will be healed. 9 For I too am a person subject to authority, with soldiers subject to me. And I say to one, 'Go,' and he goes; and to another, 'Come here,' and he comes; and to my slave, 'Do this,' and he does it." 10 When Jesus heard this, he was amazed and said to those following him, "Amen, I say to you, in no one in Israel have I found such faith."Notice what happens here: A Roman centurion (part of the military) comes to Jesus. None of the disciples engage in any kind of protest, or try to get themselves thrown in jail. Jesus doesn't condemn the military. He doesn't say, "Go and sin no more," as he said to the adulterer. Instead, Jesus commends the centurion's faith as greater than anyone else's faith in all of Israel. And to this day, the Catholic liturgy repeats the centurion's words.

Ah, yes. God, country and Notre Dame, not necessarily in that order. Stuart,For another take on the significance of the centurion's prayer (and in the Catholic liturgy, we say "I am not worthy...and I shall be healed"), please check out the following, or if the linkbelow doesn't work, try www.catholicpeacefellowship.org, then the Fall 2006 issue of Sign of Peace. What we don't know is what the centurion did after his encounter with Jesus. At the CPF retreat there were any number of heroic "centurions" who, having encountered Jesus during their military service, took up the cross of nonviolence and are following him. In so doing, they have risked losing the respect of their peers, work which they loved, and relationships. Yes, the disciples did not "engage in any kind of protest, or try to get themselves thrown in jail." When push came to shove, they ran away. We are ALL disciples, and all centurions. I for one regret I was not able to remain for the protest. http://www.catholicpeacefellowship.org/nextpage.asp?m=2499

A comment on this website's functionality. Every time I return to the site, it has fallen into a weird limbo where the comment function neither remembers my identity nor does it ask me to log back in. Instead, the "Author" field is simply blank. I'm then forced to do the following in order to leave a comment: Click "Home." Click "logout." Click "log in." Actually log back in. Click "blog." Finally, find the original post that I had meant to comment on. I've never seen another website that has commenting but makes it so inconvenient. On the other hand, I guess I could see the value in forcing people to jump through six hoops in order to leave a comment -- it forces them to slow down, perhaps think more carefully, etc. Is that the intent?

"What we don't know is what the centurion did after his encounter with Jesus."So? What we do know is that 1) Unlike his advice to the adulterer, Jesus didn't tell the centurion to do anything different; 2) Jesus in fact went out of his way to praise the centurion; 3) No one else raised a protest. "Yes, the disciples did not "engage in any kind of protest, or try to get themselves thrown in jail." When push came to shove, they ran away."You seem to be thinking of the Passion narrative, which came much later. Anyway, if the disciples had raised an objection -- "Jesus, this is a *military* man here; you shouldn't be allowing him in your presence without objecting" -- what do you think would have happened? What in the rest of the Gospels makes you think that Jesus would have ever approved of that kind of protest?

Stuart - That seems to me an argument from silence. Perhaps Jesus' silence on the matter was because that was not the time to bring it up? Regardless of the reason, I don't find the argument from silence convincing.

Well, praising the centurion's faith as greater than anyone else in Israel isn't quite the same thing as literal silence. Yes, Jesus didn't expressly bless the centurion's deeds; he was silent on that. But you're avoiding the real question: If the disciples had raised a protest at the centurion's presence, do you think that Jesus would have approved? What in the Gospels would ever make you think that? And if centurions could go to Jesus and walk away blessed (NOT rebuked), why should Notre Dame set a higher standard?