When we look at the early period, the origins of Christianity, the reasons the desert mothers and fathers sought out the desert, a resistance to the world they saw as violent. I think we see the reasons we are called to be mystics, a voice in the desert, the wilderness of our lives, and the lives of those around us.
Thomas Merton, addressing his fellow monks: “My dear Brothers, we are already one. But we imagine that we are not. And what we have to recover is our original unity. What we have to be is what we are.”
This is the essence of what it means to be human and the difference it makes!
When we read Merton’s writings in the book “Faith and Violence” and the book “Peace in the Post-Christian Era,” we see the question being raised about faith and violence co-existing in our world as it did at the time of Jesus.
The teachings of Jesus while he walked the earth in a period of violence and military occupation of peoples homeland, we see the development of a theology of resistance. And for Jesus, the price of the resistance was a political death. The life of Jesus and his followers was one of restorative justice, reclaiming what it means to be a human being living with other human beings. When you study the world’s religions, you see the common thread about how we humans search for meaning. Through the meaning we discover, we come to meet the significant other some call God, others Allah, the Light, Bhagavan, Devas, and so forth. Violence has never been a virtue in any of the world religions.
When we read Merton and his works on violence, peace, and war, we see not much has changed in 50 to 60 years of his writings. Imagine, if you may, a world where Christians reached out to other religions of this world and said, hold my hand, and together we innovate, educate, and collaborate towards a world of peace and non-violence.
This can be done, and as Merton said to his fellow monks: “My dear Brothers, we are already one. But we imagine that we are not. And what we have to recover is our original unity. What we have to be is what we are.”