Great Peace Builders

Saint Maximilian of Tebessa (274 – 295)
Saint Maximilian of Tebessa is a Christian saint whose feast day is observed on 12 March. He is a martyr of the Catholic Church from the third century CE, born in A.D. 274. Because his father Fabius Victor was a soldier in the Roman army, Maximilianus was obliged to join at the age of 21. Brought before the proconsul of Numidia Cassius Dion, he refused, stating that as a Christian he could not serve in the military. This led to his martyrdom by beheading on 12 March, A.D. 295, at the City of Thavaste (now Tébessa, Algeria), North Africa. He is noted as an early conscientious objector.

Saint Telemachus (c. 400)
Saint Telemachus was a monk who, according to the Church historian Theodoret, tried to stop a gladiator fight in a Roman amphitheatre, and was stoned to death by the crowd. The Christian Emperor Honorius however was impressed by the monk’s martyrdom and it spurred him to issue an edict banning gladiator fights. The last known gladiator fight in Rome was on January 1, 404 AD, so this is usually given as the date of Telemachus’ martyrdom.

Francis of Assisi (c. 1181-1226) 
“Lord, make me an instrument of your peace. Where there is hatred let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light, and where there is sadness, joy.”

Menno Simons (1494-1561) 
“The Scriptures teach that there are two opposing princes and two opposing kingdoms: the one is the Prince of peace; the other is the prince of strife. Each of these princes has his particular kingdom, and as the prince is, so also is the kingdom. The Prince of peace is Christ Jesus. His kingdom is the kingdom of peace, which is his church. His messengers are the messengers of peace. His word is the word of Peace. His body is the body of peace.”
Reply to False Accusations, III

Chief Seattle (c. 1786 – 1866)
“Youth is impulsive. When our young men grow angry at some real or imaginary wrong, and disfigure their faces with black paint, it denotes that their hearts are black, and that they are often cruel and relentless, and our old men and old women are unable to restrain them. Thus it has ever been. Thus it was when the white man began to push our forefathers ever westward. But let us hope that the hostilities between us may never return. We would have everything to lose and nothing to gain. Revenge by young men is considered gain, even at the cost of their own lives, but old men who stay at home in times of war, and mothers who have sons to lose, know better.”

Dwight L. Moody (1837-1899) 
When the Civil War began, Moody felt pressured by his friends to enlist in the armed forces on the side of the Union. “In spite of all this he could not conscientiously enlist: ‘There has never been a time in my life when I felt that I could take a gun and shoot down a fellow-being. In this respect I am a Quaker,’ was his explanation.”
William R. Moody, The Life of Dwight L. Moody, p. 82

Mahatma Gandhi (1869-1948)
“An eye for an eye leaves everybody blind.”

Georgia Harkness (1891-1974) 
“The modern mind has not made a great deal of progress since ancient Israel in the matter of viewing the nation’s enemies as God’s enemies. Our bombs, battleships, bacteriological laboratories [are viewed] as instruments for the infliction of divine judgment upon those who contemn God’s holy name and flout his law. It would appear that large portions of the Christian world have yet to discover the word of the New Testament: “Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him….Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.”
The Gospel and Our World, pp. 114-115

Oscar Romero (1917 – 1980)
“It is my hope that my blood will be the seed of freedom and the sign that hope will soon be reality”

Dorothy Day (1897-1981) 
“How obey the laws of a state when they run counter to man’s conscience? ‘Thou shalt not kill,’ Divine law states. ‘A new precept I give unto you that you love your brother as I have loved you.’ St. Peter disobeyed the law of men and stated that he had to obey God rather than man. Wars today involve total destruction, obliteration bombing, killing of the innocent, the stockpiling of atom and hydrogen bombs….War means hatred and fear. Love casts out fear.”
“The Pope and Peace” in The Catholic Worker, February 1954

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) 
“To our most bitter opponents we say: ‘We shall match your capacity to inflict suffering by our capacity to endure suffering. We shall meet your physical force with soul force. Do to us what you will, and we shall continue to love you.’…. Jesus is eternally right. History is replete with the bleached bones of nations that refused to listen to him. May we in the twentieth century hear and follow his words before it is too late. May we solemnly realize that we shall never be true sons of the heavenly Father until we love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us.”
“Loving your Enemies” in Strength to Love

John Howard Yoder (1927 – 1997)
The biblical mandate …. must not only explain that it is our duty to respect the powers that be, but also provide leverage for formulating the limits of that respect, and for articulating our resistance when those limits are overrun.

Tom Fox, Christian Peacemaker Team member killed in Iraq (1951 – 2006)
“We reject violence to punish anyone who harms us. We ask the equal justice in the arrest and trial of anyone, soldier or civilian, who commits an act of violence, and we ask that there be no retaliation on their relatives or property. We forgive those who consider us their enemies. Therefore, any penalty should be in the spirit of restorative justice, rather than in the form of violent retribution.”

Tenzin Gyatso, The 14th Dalai Lama m (1935 – )
“If you wish to experience peace, provide peace for another.”

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