The priest as warrior

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I enjoyed the article. I like the image of Jesus Christ as a warrior. That is how I think of him.

While I’ve certainly heard pacifist homilies very occasionally that have bothered me, they seem to be the exception and not the rule. Do people really think Jesus is often portrayed as a victim rather than a victor?


If so, they miss the whole point of the Sunday Mass & Easter.

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Usually Jesus is portrayed as the victim during Lent, especially the Holy Week, to remind us that He is crucified for our sins and so we get sorry for our sins and never repeat them again for the love of He.
But when in trouble or during sad times, Jesus as a victim does not help at all. Or baby Jesus, little and sweet. Or Virgin Mary as a loving mother. In sad times I need Christ Pantocrator, or as a victorious warrior or King, something that helps me not feel alone in the struggle. Jesus getting crucified together with me, or Jesus suffering, just doesn’t help at all. All it does it make me feel sorry for him too and it’s all sorrow in all directions and I want to keep Him safe but I can’t because He’s God and so all my sorrow grows.

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Not really. Conservative preachers often like to dwell on this supposed feminization of Jesus as part of their overarching complaint about the feminization of the Church, or how Jesus was made into a hippie, etc. In my experience, this type of thinking may have been around 50 years ago in the hippie/ Vietnam era but it’s been fading fast since the Reagan era and nowadays it’s pretty non-existent. As someone else said, Christ’s sufferings tend to be emphasized during Lent as a way of making us feel sorry for our sins, but the rest of the year there is plenty of room for a “masculine Christ” and plenty of priests, online if not in your own parish, harping on the “masculine Jesus as conqueror” theme.

As for “pretty” images of Jesus holding a lamb, you can find images of dozens of different types of Jesus especially now that we have the Internet. The pretty Jesuses will always appeal to a certain portion of the audience but you can find a lot of masculine Jesus, realistic-looking Jesus, muscular Jesus, superhero Jesus, biker Jesus, Jesus wrapped in the flag with two guns blazing (yes I just saw this one) etc. Any Jesus you like. So if you have a big problem with a sweet looking Jesus just go find one you relate to more.


The warrior imagery is fine, except that it does not jive with Jesus’ teachings or actions … at all


A pacifist is not a “victim.” Do you think Gandhi was a victim? Or Martin Luther King? Or Dorothy Day? Or…? It takes great strength and integrity to resist violence.


Those are not the only two choices. But perhaps more importantly, being a warrior is not the same as being stern and violent all the time. Many warriors that I have known were also extremely gentle to those who they were protecting. It was when the threats showed up that the fire came out. And it takes extreme courage and strength of purpose, such as is needed by a warrior, to voluntarily submit to something like the Crucifixion on behalf of those He was protecting and serving.

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Honestly, I think pacifism has it’s place as an effective tool for change sometimes. I find Dorthy inspiring. With that being said, I don’t see Jesus as a pacifist, nor do I see “strict” pacifism as a Christian teaching. This has been my concern with how pacifism is occasionally portrayed by some.

Sometimes Jesus used nonviolence. He allowed himself to be sacrificed. He also took a whip and started turning over the money changers tables. He did what needed to be done based on the situation. The money changers incident is a big part of what got him arrested, so these events are related or perhaps they are one great event. To only look at his willingness to be sacrificed, and call him a pacifist misses the complete picture. I think that is part of what the article is trying to say.

Perhaps Dorthy Day expresses one aspect of Jesus and his story, and that is great. I think there are other views. Sometimes Jesus was neither a pacifist nor a warrior and chose even a different way to handle things.

They were not pacifist, but activist who believed in nonviolence

A pacifist stays out of the frey so to speak.

This is not what Gandhi or Martin Luther King did. They were involved in fighting for the rights of their people, but they fought without the use of violence.


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Priests–or all of us–should be warriors for Christ who “went out conquering to conquer” (Rev. 6:2). But we need to understand who the enemy is and what our weapons are.

Eph. 6:

11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For we are not contending against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. 14 Stand therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and having shod your feet with the equipment of the gospel of peace; 16 above all taking the shield of faith, with which you can quench all the flaming darts of the evil one. 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

Confirmation is the key sacrament in this respect:

St. Robert Bellarmine, The Art of Dying Well

In Confirmation a slight blow is given to us, that so the Christian soldier may learn to fight, not by striking, but by enduring…[Confirmation] bestows the gifts of spiritual wisdom and of charity, which is “patient and kind;" and as a sign of this most rare and yet most precious virtue of patience, the Bishop gives the person about to be confirmed a slight blow, that he may remember he now becomes a soldier of Christ, not to strike, but to endure; not to do injuries to others, but to bear them. In the Christian warfare, he fights not against visible but invisible enemies; for thus did Christ our great commander fight and conquer, who being nailed to the cross, conquered the infernal powers; thus did the Apostles fight, only just confirmed, for being severely scourged in the council of the Jews, they went forth " rejoicing that they were accounted worthy to suffer reproach for the name of Jesus." The grace of Confirmation then effects this, that when a man is unjustly injured, he should not think of revenge, but rejoice that he suffered reproach unjustly.


St Therese saw herself as a warrior for Christ, doing battle daily.

Most pacifists I know or know of—including myself and those listed above—ARE activists. Pacifism is anything but passive. Pacifism requires profound strength and intentionality.

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Revelation 19:11-16 New King James Version (NKJV)

Christ on a White Horse

11 Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war. 12 His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns. He [a]had a name written that no one knew except Himself. 13 He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. 14 And the armies in heaven, clothed in [b]fine linen, white and clean, followed Him on white horses. 15 Now out of His mouth goes a [c]sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations. And He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron. He Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. 16 And He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written:


Pacifism means not being involved

As an example, a pacifist opposes a war that the nation is involved in. However, he/she does nothing other than be opposed to it personally.

A person of nonviolence, works to end the war he/she opposes via protest, getting involved with laws, etc

Get a copy of the book, Nonviolence: The History of a Dangerous Idea, by Mark Kurlanski

He does a great job defining the difference


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Jim, I actually teach this stuff — and I don’t think you understand what pacifism is. It is NOT uninvolvement. Please look it up and read about it before you say more.



  1. the belief that any violence, including war, is unjustifiable under any circumstances, and that all disputes should be settled by peaceful means.


It doesn’t mean getting involved, but passively opposing the violence without getting involved.

Quakers were opposed to WWII, but they served in ways not directly involved in the war. This is pacifism. They didn’t do anything to oppose the war because as pacifist, the opposed violence.

If you’re teaching about this, then you really need to get a copy of the book, “Nonviolence: The History of a Dangerous Idea,” by Mark Kurlansky

Gandhi and Martin Luther King were not pacifist. They were activist who were actively involved for their cause, but advocated nonviolence in the struggle.


Um, no. I mean a serious analysis of pacifism—especially Christian pacifism. I will cite some scholarly sources when I have time.

Would anyone else like to engage on this? If someone says that neither Gandhi nor MLK were pacifists, I really don’t know how to proceed. So I think I’ll stop for now to see if anyone else wants to say something. I feel like I’m getting nowhere. Pacifists ARE activists (and not passive). I don’ know what else to say for now.

Sure…I thought Gandhi and MLK were pacifists. I didn’t fully understand @JimR-OCDS points here.

I just don’t believe Jesus was a pacifist. Nonviolence was technique he used sometimes. He used many things to get his point across including violence. It was used as a form of protection. I’m good with Jesus portrayed as a warrior. Like others have said Jesus uses spiritual weapons too. I’m also good with people like Dorthy Day and Martin Luther King using pacifism to accomplish their goals. To me this is just a different side of Jesus and his teachings.

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