Do not kill.” This was the command Yahweh gave to Moses on Mount Sinai (Ex 20:13). The Book of Deuteronomy (5:17) repeats the same. Even after receiving such an explicit command, the Jews, God’s own people, continued to kill many and were in turn killed by others. Yet, they hardly ever thought of bringing about any change in the commandment of God. Instead, they kept faithfully repeating the command, “Do not kill!”
It took Jesus to give a radically new interpretation to this divine commandment. He said, “You have heard that it was said to our ancestors, ‘Do not murder,… But I say to you that everyone being angry with his brother will be liable to the judgment (Mt 5:21-22). Jesus thus advocated an end to all forms of homicide, in thought, word and action. He has taken nonviolence to its highest dimensions. while dying on the cross. In His death on the cross, He epitomized the ‘ahimsa’ He advocated in His teachings. To the disciple who drew the sword for self protection, Jesus said, “Put your sword back in its place” (Mt 26:52).
In spite of all this, down the history, Christian teachers dared to change God’s commandment against killing, by sanctioning ‘Just War.’ And yet they claimed to be followers of Jesus Christ who taught not only not to kill, but also to abstain from anger and abuse of the other! While even the Jews kept from amending God’s commandment, Christians feigned more practical by opting for ‘Just War!’
Can Jesus’ disciples take the sword? The answer definitely is an emphatic ‘No,’ despite the worst of challenges. Their path cannot be different from that of the crucified Christ – the path of nonviolence. It is none other than Mahatma Gandhi who imbibed this teaching to the core, discovering the heart of Christ, and emulating His non-
violence. Of course, a few others followed suit – Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela …
In our time, there is Pope Francis, the man who, by divine intent, is determined to help Christians and the world to retrace their paths to that of Jesus, the path of nonviolence and peace. The recent Vatican meeting (ref. pp 12-15), loudly resounded and upheld this path.
Let us retrace our steps to the path of Christ – the path of nonviolence, of ‘ahimsa.’
Dr. Jacob Naluparayil