Just Gospel: Now is the Time to Promote Diologue with Other Religions

Sister JulieAnn Sheahan

November 20, 2017

Franciscan Sister Kathleen Murphy reflects on Pope Francis’ monthly intention  on the Christians in Asia and lyrics of Tom Kendzia’s song Now is the Time.

. . . Spirit of love, crush the pain of hatred . . . Make us your own, now is the time . . . The words of Tom Kendzia’s song seem so very appropriate for our present world situation. Yet, how can we make these more than just words or a nice hymn to sing at Mass. How can we bring these words to life?

Jesuit and former papal spokesman, Father Federico Lombardi gives us some thoughts in this area. He writes, “We can communicate to establish a dialogue, to arrive at an encounter and thus to build together communion in the church, in society and in the family of peoples. We can also communicate to divide, to offend, to spread hate, to prevail over the other. Indeed sometimes it is theorized that communication is more effective, interesting and dynamic if it is conflictual, if it thrives in opposition and struggle. I have always invited my collaborators to take as their motto: ‘Communicating to unite, communication to build communion.’ We now begin to recognize the seriousness of the spread of hate speech on the internet and how it can be used as a way to catalyze and channel hatred. In our history we still experience the divisions of Babel, but we must let the Spirit of Pentecost guide us from Babel to Pentecost, from division and confusion to universal understanding and communion.”

In this same vein, Pope Francis chooses as his prayer intention the following: That Christians in Asia, bearing witness to the Gospel in word and deed, may promote dialogue, peace, and mutual understanding, especially with those of other religions. At first glance we might think this intention has nothing to do with us, but is just for Asian Christians. Yet we are called to pray for these challenged Christians and for the suffering Church in this part of the world. We pray that they will be Spirit-led in their encounters and communications with those of other and even oppositional faiths. We pray that their spirit of love may crush the pain of hatred.

Beyond praying for the strength and courage needed by these distant brothers and sisters, we also hear the challenge of our Core Values statement which reads: We work at building community by learning to better communicate with each other. So we pray for the fortitude needed to honestly communicate for unity in parts of the world oceans away, but we also pray for the grace to communicate for unity among our Sisters and all we encounter daily. Here in the everyday meetings we experience, we need to call on God’s Spirit of love to crush the pain of hatred in our local community, in our total community, in our ministry groups, in our towns, in our nation, in Asia, in our world, for now is the time!


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