Readings from Jewish, Christian and Islamic scripture and tradition

Prepared for "A Penitential Opportunity," worship resources for a service in commemorations of the 50th anniversary of the My Lai massacre

§The bows of the mighty are broken, but the feeble gird on strength. Those who were full have hired themselves out for bread, but those who were hungry have ceased to hunger. . . . [God] raises up the poor from the dust [and] lifts the needy from the ash heap, to make them sit with the rulers and inherit a seat of honor. —1 Samuel 2:4-5, 8a

§You have heard that it was said, “An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.” But I say to you, Do not resist an evildoer. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also. . . . You have heard that it was said, “You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.” But I say unto you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. —Matthew 5:38-39, 43-44

§The Messenger of God (peace and blessings be upon him) said: Whoever is untrustworthy in his dealings has no faith, and whoever is not committed to his promises has no religion. —Bayhaqi

§By three things the world is preserved, by [restorative] justice, by truth, and by peace, and these three are one: if [restorative] justice has been accomplished, so has truth, and so has peace. —JT Ta'anit 4:2

§True evangelical faith cannot lie dormant. It clothes the naked; it feeds the hungry; it shelters the destitute; it serves those that harm it; it binds up that which is wounded. It has become all things to all. —Menno Simons (c. 1496-1561)

§Do then those who devise evil feel secure that ALLAH will not cause the earth to swallow them up or that the wrath will not seize them from directions they little perceive? Or that He may not call them to account in the midst of their goings to and fro without a chance of their frustrating Him? Or that He may not call them to account by a process of slow wastage? For your Lord is indeed full of kindness and mercy. —Qur’an, Surah Nahl, 45-47

§A king is not saved by his great army; a warrior is not delivered by his great strength. The war horse is a vain hope for victory, and by its great might it cannot save. —Psalms 33:16-17

§Repay no one evil for evil. . . . Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God. . . . If your enemies are hungry, feed them. . . . Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. —Romans 12:17a, 19a, 20a, 21

§The Messenger of God (peace and blessings be upon him) said: It does not befit a faithful person to have a full belly while his neighbor goes without. —Bukhari and Muslim

§Not by military might, and not by force of arms. By spirit [nonviolence] alone, says Adonai.  —Zechariah 4:6

§Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. . . . And I heard a loud voice saying, “See, the home of God is among mortals. [God] will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain any more, for the former things have passed away.” —Revelation 21:1, 3a, 4

§To each among you We have prescribed a Law and an Open Way. If ALLAH had so willed He would have made you all one community but [He wishes] to test you in that which He has given you, so compete with each other in good works. The goal of you all is ALLAH; it is He that will show you the truth of the matters in which you dispute. —Qur’an, Surah Ma’idah, 48

§Seek peace and pursue it. —Psalm 34:15

§I am a soldier of Christ; it is not lawful for me to fight. —St. Martin of Tours (c.335-397)

§The Messenger of God (peace and blessings be upon him) said: When God created the creation, he inscribed upon the Throne, “My Mercy overpowers My wrath.” —Bukhari and Muslim

§Because you have trusted in your power, and in the multitude of your warriors; therefore the tumult of war shall rise among your people. —Hosea 10:13b-14

§When Christ disarmed Peter in the garden, he disarmed all Christians. —Tertullian (c.160-c.225)

§The recompense of an ill deed is the like thereof. But whosoever pardons and amends, his reward is due from God, who does not love tyrants. —Qur’an, Surah Shura, 40

§Do not do unto others that which is hateful to you. That is the entire Torah. Now go study. —Hillel

§Acquire the spirit of peace and a thousand souls around you will be saved. —St. Seraphim of Sarov (1759-1833)

§The Messenger of God (peace and blessings be upon him) sent Mu’adh [as a governor] to Yemen and said, “Be afraid of the curse of the oppressed, for there is no screen between their prayer and God.” —Bukhari

§The accomplishments of Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr. suggest that Isaiah's dictum is not so much sentimentalism as it is realpolitik of the spirit: "For thus said the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel: In turning and stillness shall you be saved.  In tranquility and trust shall be your strength. . . ." (30:15) —Everett E. Gendler

§What causes wars, and what causes fightings among you? Is it not your passions that are at war in your members? You desire and do not have; so you kill. And you covet and cannot obtain; so you fight and wage war. —James 4:1-2

§The Messenger of God (peace and blessings be upon him) said: That man whose neighbor is not safe from harassment has no faith. —Bukhari and Muslim

§Then justice will dwell in the wilderness, and righteousness abide in the fruitful field. And the effect of righteousness will be peace. —Isaiah 32:16-17

§May we look upon our treasures, the furniture of our houses and our garments and [judge] whether the seeds of war have nourishment in these our possessions. —John Woolman (1720-1772)

§The Messenger of God (peace and blessings be upon him) said: The best jihad is to speak a word of truth to an unjust ruler. —Abu Dawud

§He judged the cause of the poor and needy; then it was well. Is not this to know me? Says the Lord. —Jeremiah 22:16

§Contrary to the rest of men enlist yourself in an army without weapons, without war, without bloodshed, without wrath, without stain. . . . If the loud trumpet summons soldiers to war, shall not Christ with a strain of peace to the ends of the earth gather up his soldiers of peace? A bloodless army he has assembled by blood and by the word, to give them the Kingdom of Heaven. —Clement of Alexandria (c.150-c.215)

§The Messenger of God (peace and blessings be upon him) said: “Help your fellow Muslim whether oppressor or oppressed.” “We know how to help the oppressed, but how are we to help the oppressor?” “Your help to him is to prevent him from oppressing.” —Bukhari

§But I will have pity on the house of Judah, and I will deliver them by the Lord their God; I will not deliver them by bow, nor by sword, nor by war, nor by horses, nor by horsemen. —Hosea 1:7

§Imagine the vanity of thinking that your enemy can do you more damage than your enmity.  —St. Augustine (354-430)

§The Messenger of God (peace and blessings be upon him) said: God has mercy upon those who are merciful to others. —Bukari

§If a person of learning sits in his or her home and says to herself, “What have the affairs of society to do with me?  Why should I trouble myself with the people's voices of protest?  Let my soul dwell in Peace!” If he does this, he overthrows [destroys] the world. —Tanhuma Mishpatim

§The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord. —Luke 4:18-19

§The Messenger of God (peace and blessings be upon him) said: There are people among the servants of God who are neither prophets nor martyrs; the prophets and martyrs will envy them on the Day of Resurrection for their rank before God, the Most High.” People asked: “Tell us, Messenger of God, who are they?” He replied: “They are people who love one another for the spirit of God, without any mutual kinship or exchange of property. I swear by God, their faces will glow and they will stand in light. They will have no fear when the people will fear, and they will not grieve when the people will grieve.” He then recited the Qur’anic verse: “Behold! Verily for the friends of God there is no fear, nor shall they grieve.” —Abu Dawud

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The above quotes are selected from longer lists in “Peace Primer II: Quotes from Jewish, Christian, and Islamic Scripture & Tradition,” Lynn Gottlieb, Rabia Terri Harris, and Ken Sehested, Wipf & Stock Publishers, 2017.