Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

19 January is the annual observance of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day in the United States. As Americans observe this holiday, the recent news of racial unrest gives us pause, as we reflect on how far racial justice has emerged, and yet how much still needs to be done. In that light, we offer our readers the following reflections of King on peace, justice and hope:

This season finds us a rather bewildered human race. We have neither peace within nor peace without. Everywhere paralyzing fears harrow people by day and haunt them by night. Our world is sick with war; everywhere, we turn we see its ominous possibilities. And yet, my friends, the Christmas hope for peace and good will toward all can no longer be dismissed as a kind of pious dream of some utopian. If we don’t have good will toward everyone in this world, we will destroy ourselves by the misuse of our own instruments and our own power. Wisdom born of experience should tell us that war is obsolete.

Now let me say that the next thing we must be concerned about if we are to have peace on earth and good will toward men is the nonviolent affirmation of the sacredness of all human life. Every person is somebody because they are a child of God. And so when we say “Thou shalt not kill,” we’re really saying that human life is too sacred to be taken on the battlefields of the world. Humans are more than a tiny vagary of whirling electrons or a wisp of smoke from a limitless smoldering. Every person is a child of God, made in His image, and therefore must be respected as such. Until we see this everywhere, until nations see this everywhere, we will be fighting wars. We are all one in Christ Jesus. And when we truly believe in the sacredness of human personality, we won’t exploit people, we won’t trample people with the iron feet of oppression, and we won’t kill anybody.

Martin Luther King was the embodiment of the Christian commitment to non-violent active resistance to violence, racism, poverty and injustice wherever he found it.

We all need to constantly read his words and make them part of our lives. As we celebrate his Feast on Monday, let’s commit ourselves to living the dream. It is far too easy to quote a few lines from one of his sermons and say how nice!


Fr. Carl Diederichs

(I took the quote from MLK from Capuchin Communications. The source was not cited)