Reflections: July 2018

By Father Chris Thomas

Love one another

I have just returned from the Holy Land. One day I was wandering around the old city of Jerusalem when I witnessed something extraordinary. An elderly Palestinian woman slipped on the cobbles and before I could get to her, two Jewish men had rushed to her side, lifted her to her feet, and made sure she was alright before going on their way. In a place of such polarisation between peoples, where hatred and anger are often the energies that govern much of what happens, it was an amazing thing to witness.
Whenever I see something like that, I am reminded of St Paul’s letter to the Galatians in which he writes: ‘There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.’

It seems to me that this is one of the basic truths of our faith yet most of us pay lip service to it. While we might not find ourselves in a situation as polarised as that of the Holy Land, we still divide and separate into good and bad and right and wrong. We still find it difficult to live with difference. Most of us fail to recognise God’s presence in those who live, think and act differently than we do. At times we are not very gracious in our attitude towards them. It is this unwillingness to love ‘that which is different’ which is at the centre of many of our planet’s problems. The basis of war, violence and indeed all hatred is the reluctance to look at another person and recognise the presence of God – regardless of their colour, creed or sexuality. At the centre of the Gospel of Christ is the mandate to love, even that which is other than we are.

When we celebrated Pentecost this year, my prayer was that the spirit of God would enlighten my mind, broaden my vision and help me to be more welcoming than I might otherwise be. Wherever we are on our journey in faith, maybe this could become our prayer so that in our own hearts we might live at peace with our brothers and sisters and reach out to those who are different from us.