“He (Abraham) is our father in the sight of God, in whom he believed.” (Rom 4:17)
Among my great delights during the years I was stationed at our friaries in Boston was the opportunity to work with Jews, among others, inside of the Greater Boston Interfaith Organization. Together we worked as community organizers in the areas of health insurance, youth violence, and elder care. Getting to know my Jewish sisters and brothers through joint action for justice was a powerful way to challenge the assumptions and prejudices too many of us harbor. Advocating and organizing together for the good of all was not only a bromide, it actually helped heal relationships we did not even know were broken.
As Pope St John Paul II reminds us: "In the Christian world--I do not say on the part of the Church as such--erroneous and unjust interpretations of the New Testament regarding the Jewish people and their alleged culpability (for the death of Christ) have circulated for too long, engendering feelings of hostility towards this people." In 1993, the Pope wrote: “As Christians and Jews, following the example of the faith of Abraham, we are called to be a blessing to the world (cf. Gen. 12:2 ff.). This is the common task awaiting us. It is therefore necessary for us, Christians and Jews, to be first a blessing to one another (L'Osservatore Romano, August 17, 1993).
Clearly, Christians and Jews together follow the faith of Abraham and Pope St John Paul II further reminds us that Jews are our “elder brothers,” and that the first Covenant was “never revoked by God [cf. Rom. 11:29].” Thinking of our Jewish brothers and sisters as our “elder brothers” and sisters can change everything. Separations between us as communities of belief are natural, but unnatural fissures built on prejudice and anti-Semitism must be faced and overcome, and one good way to begin is to work together for justice.
Today, pray for healing between and among religions.
Have you had the opportunity to work for justice with other religious traditions?