DISARM THE HEART
A Reflection from the Interpath Traditions
by Thoms P. Bonacci, C.P.
June 22, 2022
The great spiritual masters have always cautioned their disciples to be vigilant, faithful, and disciplined. Jesus, for example, said he was sending his followers like “lambs in the midst of wolves.” He was not calling the opposition names but raising the consciousness of the dangers inherent in living a life of integrity, justice, and peace. The Buddha instructed his disciples to be persons of radical compassion. He interpreted the rudeness of others as indicative of their personal pain and suffering.
Compassion, forgiveness, and respect for would-be enemies can occasion ridicule for those who think such virtues are a sign of weakness. Sometimes the great masters are portrayed in ways unbecoming, hurtful, and blasphemous.
Last week an American congresswoman suggested Jesus would not have been crucified if he had an AR-15 assault weapon. This gross idea is as blasphemous as it is hurtful. But, unfortunately, throughout history, some have attempted to remake Jesus and other spiritual masters in the image of their prejudices, fears, and misunderstandings.
Jesus called on his followers to disarm the heart. His strength came from God not weapons. He died in the manner of his living. He exerted compassion, forgiveness, and hope in the final moments of his life. It breaks my heart to think anyone would think of Jesus in terms of violence. In fact, Jesus was executed by the imperial state because he crossed over the boundaries of prejudice, hatred, and injustice.
Many people who have suffered greatly have been a source of great blessing to others. Think of Nelson Mandala, Sojourner Truth, and the African American Slaves. Juneteenth (June 19th) is rapidly becoming an international observance. The delayed announcement of emancipation (Galveston, Texas, 1865) now celebrates the heritage, culture, and courage of a people who suffered cruelty, hatred, and enslavement. The great civil rights leaders never picked up a gun but their dignity.
Throughout history, people have risen up in the cause of what is good and right. Rather than remaking the blessed in the images of violence and hatred, they transform the evil of violence and hatred with their love and kindness. It is customary on Juneteenth to sing “Lift Every Voice and Sing.” It is an anthem of hope and courage. Consider these touching words the next time you find yourself with a broken-heart because of violence or hatred:
God of our weary years,
God of our silent tears,
Thou who hast brought us thus far on the way;
Thou who hast by Thy might,
Led us into the light,
Keep us forever in the path, we pray.
Lest our feet stray from the places, our God, where we met Thee,
Lest our hearts, drunk with the wine of the world, we forget Thee;
Shadowed beneath Thy hand,
May we forever stand,
True to our God,
True to our native land.
Thank you, Holy Community, for laying aside any weapons in your hands, for dispelling any darkness in your heart, and embracing the love in your souls as you continue to stand up for what is right, just, true, and beautiful.
As things begin to return to a new normal, we at The Interfaith Peace Project are here for you in any way that you need us. The Antioch Center is now open to fully vaccinated people on Wednesdays, from 11:00 am to 2:00 pm. We are vigilant and will adjust to any and all recommendations from the state and county. We will continue our work through Zoom as we add in person programs. If you would like to schedule an in person or Zoom program or would like a phone appointment with any of us, give us a call. You may call or email Tom at: