We meet the 1st and 3rd Thursdays at St. Gertrude's Ministry Center
(6214 N. Glenwood), beginning at 8:00 p.m. Folks are welcome to join us at anytime.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Gandhi, Jesus, and Fr. Martin Newell

John Dear tells us in Transfiguration: A Meditation on Transforming Ourselves and our World … that Gandhi read the Sermon on the Mount every day. I don’t. I rarely do. Hearing that Gandhi read the Sermon daily influences me to believe it had influence on Gandhi’s activity in the world. I wonder if he interiorized the Sermon in such a way that without consciously referring to it at all times, Gandhi’s activity became a referent back to the Sermon. Dear writes: “Gandhi knew it better than anyone.” Then, for his times, the activity of Gandhi must have been the best reference to the Sermon available.

We admit some limitations of looking at Gandhi’s activity as a reference for understanding the Sermon on the Mount. How could a Hindu, a man, someone long deceased, still speak to us today? The blessings of time raise doubt whether some of the Sermon’s meaning might be lost in translation. Little has been gained in the province of interrelgious dialogue; even now Christians doubt the authority of Hindus to interpret biblical meaning. Much has advanced in understanding of sex and gender roles; his particular viewpoint of a Gospel will be bound to reflect less of the understanding. Thus, will his activity be limited to a place and context inhibited by ignorance of advances? Long since dead, what can Gandhi know of the present day? Practically the whole of international relations has sprung up since Gandhi’s death. Astronauts walk on the moon; we survive cancer, heart transplants, AIDS. Gandhi knew a world before the Korean, the Vietnam, the Rwanda, the Congo; he knew of war in a pre-nuclear world but had no notion of fundamental difference between the cold war and the War on Terror. Arguably, his meaning of the Sermon on the Mount is a relic of the past. But following this logic leads to the implication that would rule out the wisdom of history and confine the message of Jesus himself to the dustbin of time.

Critics will try to marginalize the import of Gandhian activity for our times. Will we declare the Gandhian way relevant, even at the expense of popularity? Below we read of someone who brings to life the Sermon on the Mount the Gandhian way.


Jesus said to them,
"A prophet is not without honor except in his native place
and among his own kin and in his own house."
So he was not able to perform any mighty deed there,
apart from curing a few sick people by laying his hands on them.
He was amazed at their lack of faith. Mk 6:5-6


Ripped from LCW :

Father Martin Newell of the London Catholic Worker community was sentenced to 24 days imprisonment Friday Dec 9th 2011 at Highbury Magistrates Court. Martin was brought before the court for refusing to pay a fine arising from cutting into the Northwood Headquarters, London in December 2008. The anti-war direct action was timed for the "Feast of the Holy Innocents" on the Catholic liturgical calendar. The feast day follows Christmas and commemorates the massacre of children in a search and destroy mission by King Herod who saw the birth of Christ as a threat to his power.

From the dock Fr. Newell stated

I work with refugees from Iraq and Afghanistan at the Catholic Worker. I am opposed to the wars we have been waging on these countries. I have nonviolently resisted these wars since they began. I'm refusing to pay this fine as a form of further non-cooperation with these wars.

Northwood Headquarters is the command centre for British forces deployed overseas. The base has been the location of a number of nonviolent direct actions by the pacifist Catholic Worker community over the past decade of war on Iraq and Afghanistan.

Martin is in HMP Pentonville. Solidarity messages can be sent to

Martin Newell, c/- Giuseppe Conlon House, 49 Mattison Rd, Harringay, London, N4 1BG.

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