Be merciful, and other thoughts on interfaith life

MercifulThis morning today’s Gospel from Luke offered this message to us… a brief lesson from Jesus on how to live.

The horrific massacre in Christchurch, New Zealand continues to dominate the news. Somehow this one may have touched a new nerve. Locally, the Islamic Center of the Capital District hosted an interfaith prayer service on Sunday, and I was blessed to attend this event. That’s a big part of why today’s Gospel truly hit home. This is how we are meant to live with one another, full stop Continue reading

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Christmas

Theology Mary Fatherly JosephI looked around for some information about this stunning image, which can be found on the cover of a volume called The Edinburgh Companion to the Bible and the Arts. Originally I saw it on Facebook with this explanation:

Here is an Icon brought to my attention by a colleague of mine.
It is an Icon of 15th century located in France.
Mary is inquiring the Torah and Joseph keeps Jesus in his arms.
It is a nativity that goes beyond many stereotypes. It speaks of tenderness with regard to Joseph and of theological skills concerning Mary.
A Nativity that appeals for an updating in our manger scene!
Therefore, merry Christmas. Beyond stereotypes!

9780748639335However, it is indeed a 15th century image, but not of the Virgin Mary reading the Torah, but rather she is reading the hours. The image is fittingly called the Nativity, the Virgin Reading the Besancon Book of Hours. Despite its initial explanation to me being more exotic, either way, it is a beautiful image to behold and pray with as we enter Christmas.

 

48420590_10216144873788277_1834312285091266560_nThis is another nativity image that caught my eye, something known as Isa ibn Maryam, meaning Jesus, son of Mary. In Islam, Mary is highly revered. Jesus is seen as a prophet, but not as God himself. A surprisingly small amount of people know or understand how Jesus and Mary are understood by our Muslim brothers and sisters. There are so many links about this that I am hard pressed to find the most accurate one to show you. My best advice is to go find a Muslim friend and talk to them about it, or visit a local mosque. If your church has any interfaith connections, this should not be hard to do. If your church does not have interfaith connections, this would be a great time to explore starting them!

Refugee-NativityAnd then this scene of Jesus born in a tent to refugees, as a reminder of the era in which we live. People traveling, not because they want to, but because they have to, and people not welcomed when they arrive. There are no shortage of reminders to our current environment when we pray with the Nativity.

Christmas is here. Christ, born in the lowliest of circumstances to people at the lowest rungs of what is known as acceptable society. If we do not use this time to reorient and refocus ourselves, we miss yet another moment when God calls out to us to pay attention.

Jesus came so that all might be one. Jesus said to love one another. Jesus entire story from birth to death to resurrection is an instruction in mercy, compassion, outreach, and hope.

When will we ever learn? How about today?

May your Christmas dawn in hope this year, and may you carry hope forth for others in the days to come.

Blessings to one and all! Peace on earth! Goodwill to all people! Jesus asks for it, it is up to us to do it. This year, may it be so.

 

See and be the light

1200x630-We-Are-Called-To-Be-The-Light-In-A-Very-Dark-World-1080x630Today began like many others. Despite thinking that I should not look at the news so early in the day, I look anyway. It has been years since I have looked to cable news for anything; that is far too upsetting a landscape, one meant to incite and upset more than inform. That leaves me with national newspapers, many of the sort that people refer to as “fake news.”

Today I – wisely or unwisely – read an article about the prime minister of an Eastern European nation. It seems prudent to leave his name out of this post, but you can read it here.  Calling this an article is incorrect, it falls more closely into opinion or, as it is described by the paper, perspective. Yet, certain facts remain, this person is someone steeped in the kind of nationalism that points me over and over again to a certain Anne Lamott quote. (She claims the words were said to her by a Jesuit priest friend Tom Weston, SJ, but it seems that Anne gets the credit.)  So often, those who Continue reading

Repairers of the breach

Incontro con S.S. Kirill

Viaggio in Messico – Incontro con S.S. Kirill 12-02-2016 @Servizio Fotografico – L’Osservatore Romano

“As the Russian Patriarch and the Pope huddle right now inside Havana airport, I keep thinking of the old Yiddish proverb: ‘Two mountains can’t come together, but two people [mensches] can. – A barg mit a barg kumt zikh nit tsunoyf, ober a mentsh mit a mentshn yo.’ – Meaning: There is always a way for people to find common ground.” My friend Dina Tsoar, on Facebook today

Today I woke up very early and I immediately went to my phone to read more about the unprecedented meeting between Patriarch Kirill and Pope Francis that took place in Havana yesterday.  While this seems a blip in the news to most of the world, this is incredibly significant. I suppose if you are reading this blog, you will be inclined to agree, but I’m astounded by seeing more photos of Pope Francis in a sombrero on social media, than with Patriarch Kirill!

The full text of their joint declaration, an almost unimaginable thing, can be found at this link. Their prayers and pleas for unity, peace, justice, and more are quite moving and are worth the time it will take to read the declaration. It is astounding and a cause for joy! Remember that Jesus came so that as Jesus said: “so that they may all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I in you, that they also may be in us, that the world may believe that you sent me.”

As it happens, I wrote the daily reflection in Give Us This Day today. Now these assignments can come up to a year in advance, so I it was done some time ago, and who knew that this moment would be in the news. When I wrote it, my entire focus was on Continue reading