John Dear, a writer with the national Catholic Reporter describes a conversation he had with pacifist, progressive theologian Walter Wink about non-violence.
The fifth antithesis in the Sermon on the Mount is one of the key teachings of nonviolent resistance to evil in history. It’s long been interpreted as passivity, but instead it calls for creative nonviolent action. Jesus wants us to resist evil with active nonviolence, stand our ground, speak the truth, insist on our common humanity, disarm our opponent, risk suffering love, trust in God, and work for the conversion of our opponent, so that the one who does evil or supports systemic injustice, changes. The goal is to lead the opponent to a change of heart, to melt his heart, win him over to the truth, stop the violence, and help others discover God’s reign of love and peace. Like every good teacher, Jesus does not leave us just with the theory. He gives five concrete examples about how to do this.