A New Vision

Sunday’s Readings

John the Baptist has always been a fascinating Biblical figure. He is often depicted as a man who truly belonged in the wilderness and proclaimed into the void. But I imagine him to have been very charismatic, given that he had a large following. He must have had a large following because of what he was preaching: the coming of the one in whom the Spirit would remain. He preached of the coming of a new nation and unending salvation. He prepared the people for the coming of Jesus Christ. 

As I prepared to celebrate this Martin Luther King, Jr., day, I listened to a recording of King preaching “Beyond Vietnam” at Riverside Church on April 4, 1967. As I closed my eyes and listened to the impassioned plea and righteous fervor, I imagined King as John the Baptist. Throughout his public ministry, King preached a vision of the United States that had never been known: one where Black men and women had the right to sit at the same table to eat and to vote with White men. King and his revolutionary co-conspirators literally paved a way to voting rights on the march from Selma to Washington. 

A New Vision

Martin Luther King, Jr., speaks at Riverside Church on April 4, 1967. 

Now, at his speech at Riverside Church, King was pleading for salvation that extended beyond the borders of the United States. Critics accused King of abandoning the cause of civil rights. But he saw it differently. He saw that the two were deeply intertwined and that the soul of the nation was on the line.

King ended his speech with a call to prepare the way of the Spirit. 

“Now let us begin. Now let us rededicate ourselves to the long and bitter, but beautiful, struggle for a new world. This is the calling of the sons of God, and our brothers wait eagerly for our response. Shall we say the odds are too great? Shall we tell them the struggle is too hard? Will our message be that the forces of American life militate against their arrival as full men, and we send our deepest regrets? Or will there be another message — of longing, of hope, of solidarity with their yearnings, of commitment to their cause, whatever the cost? The choice is ours, and though we might prefer it otherwise, we must choose in this crucial moment of human history.”

3 replies
  1. Sister Ave Clark,O.P.
    Sister Ave Clark,O.P. says:

    Non-violence begins with each one of us just where we are. How we listen with peace in our heart and respond to and engage with one another is so needed in our world. To believe is not enough….we must put our belief into actions and see each person as a brother and a sister. Let us bless one another with genuine kindness, concern and compassion.

  2. sonja
    sonja says:

    Standing up for nonviolence sometimes means losing the job one loves. It is a shame that some organisations in Europe still use physical force to restrain children, which only incites their anger and violence. There are other more humane methods of dealing with children – meeting their basic needs, listening to them and providing them with a safe place to unburden their heavy hearts. I treat the children I work with as if they were my own sons and daughters. It is about being a true disciple of Christ in our homes and in our work places. Thankfully in England it is against the law to use physical force to restrain children.

  3. Dr.Cajetan Coelho
    Dr.Cajetan Coelho says:

    Martin Luther King, Jr., Nelson Mandela, Mahatma Gandhi, and several such tall leaders have left behind a rich legacy for fellow mortals to move forward fearlessly.


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