CONCLUSION of Mary of Nazareth, Prophet of Peace
by John Dear
Mary of Nazareth made the difficult but beautiful journey from contemplative
nonviolence to active nonviolence to prophetic nonviolence. She was
faithful to the God of peace and the journey to God. She loved God,
loved her neighbors and in her prophetic call for justice, loved her
enemies. She was a pilgrim of peace, and never turned away from her
mission of nonviolence.
As followers of Mary and her son Jesus we too have to start the pilgrimage
of peace from contemplative nonviolence to active nonviolence to prophetic
nonviolence. In these times of war, nuclear weapons, terrorism, global
poverty, corporate greed, executions, and violence, we can not sit
back in silence.
Each one of us has to take up that Gospel journey. That means we all
have to start anew down the road of nonviolence. We have to turn to
God in peace, allow God to disarm our hearts, go forth to our neighbors
in need, love our enemies and proclaim God's revolutionary nonviolence
to the world. We have to practice Gospel nonviolence, within us, around
us, and publicly in our world. We have to live God's gift of peace
in our hearts, practice it among our family, friends, and communities,
and proclaim it publicly to the warmaking authorities. We have to announce
the social, political and economic consequences of God's reign of justice
here and now through steadfast, provocative, prophetic nonviolence,
as the epitome of the spiritual life.
Mary's experience at the Annunciation, Visitation and the proclamation
of the Magnificat offers a shining example of committed nonviolence
to a world of brutal injustice and war. Her faithful nonviolence gave
birth to a nonviolent messiah who turned over the tables of systemic
injustice, suffered martyrdom with love and forgiveness and rose from
the dead to draw all humanity back to God's peace.
Mary hardly makes any other appearance in the Gospels after this beautiful
portrait in Luke's Gospel. She never says anything else in the Gospels,
except on two occasions, in the Temple when she asks the twelve-year-old
Jesus why he did not return with them (Luke 2:48) and in Cana, at a
wedding (John2:5). When they suddenly run out of wine, Mary informs
Jesus and then turns to the servants and says, "Do whatever he tells
These words offer a fitting summary of Mary's prophetic nonviolence.
She is the favored one of God, the servant of the God of peace and
now has become a disciple of the nonviolent Jesus. Like John the Baptist,
she seeks to "decrease" in order that he may increase. She wants us
to do whatever Jesus says.
Mary taught Jesus God's way of revolutionary nonviolence and watched
Jesus blossom as the embodiment of God's nonviolence. More than anything,
she wants all people to obey Jesus' commandments of nonviolence. Like
Jesus, she wants us to love our enemies, pray for our persecutors,
forgive seventy times seven times, seek God's reign and God's justice,
be as compassionate as God, and put away the sword. She wants us to
become, like her, servants of God's peace, disciples of God's peace,
mothers, fathers, daughters, sons, brothers and sisters of God's peace.
She wants us to spend our lives practicing nonviolence and making peace
as Jesus did.
Two thousand years after Mary's prophetic nonviolence, we have toned
down her message and transformed her into someone more manageable,
more tolerable, more passive. The culture's false image of Mary does
not threaten the status quo. She no longer is portrayed as the model
of active and prophetic nonviolence. She is no longer upheld as the
spokeswoman of the God of justice, the God of the poor, the God of
revolutionary nonviolence. Instead we have set her up on a pedestal
where she is safe, far above us, and removed from our troubles. She
is stereotyped as a quiet, law-abiding, church-abiding, obedient, subservient
woman who does what warmaking authorities want. She might hardly recognize
But Luke's portrait remains. Mary's journey sets the whole Gospel
story of nonviolence in motion. She was filled with joy at God's dramatic
entrance into the world, and God's revolutionary action against the
rich and powerful and on behalf of the poor and oppressed. Mary understands
the plight of all those who suffer from the world's unjust economic
order and its wars. She is a woman of justice, a woman of disarmament,
a woman of peace, a woman of revolution, a woman of action, a woman
The nonviolent Jesus and his mother still summon us to the journey
of contemplative, active and prophetic nonviolence. In the past, we
might have looked to noble heroes like Dorothy Day, Mahatma Gandhi,
and Martin Luther King, Jr. for leadership and action. Today, we ourselves
have to become heroes, leaders, and saints of active, prophetic nonviolence.
We can no longer wait for someone else to make the journey for us.
The poor of the earth are dying from our wars and consumerism. The
God of peace, the risen Jesus and his prophetic mother await patiently
our response to their invitation, their word, their example.
In the early 1990s, I was privileged to arrange phone conversations
for Mother Teresa as she appealed to various governors and judges on
behalf of those condemned to die on death row. Two or three times she
asked me to recommend one of her favorite prayers to those on death
row. "Tell them to pray to Mary with great confidence," she said to
me: "'Mary, be my mother now.'"
In our culture of violence, as we carry on the journey of Gospel
nonviolence, we have no better model and advocate of Christ's nonviolence
than Mary. Mother Teresa's prayer can be our prayer too. If we call
on Mary to be our mother, perhaps she will teach us how to become contemplatives,
activists and prophets of nonviolence, and accompany us on the journey
ahead to the cross, the resurrection and Pentecost. If we ask her,
she will help us become pilgrims of peace.
All we have to do is ask.
All we need do is pledge ourselves once more to Gospel nonviolence.
All we must do is surrender ourselves to the God of peace and nonviolence.
All that is required is the next step on the road to peace.
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