Friday, September 25, 2015

An invitation to encounter one another - from ON HEAVEN ON EARTH - September 25, 2015

Earlier this year, I began reading ON HEAVEN AND EARTH, a book about Catholic-Jewish Dialogue written by Pope Francis (while he was still in Argentina) and Rabbi Abraham Skorka.  This piece (see below) by Pope Francis began his introduction to the book.  It made me think about some of the times when clergy and people of different faiths in my community have been able to come together this year.  It also made me think about times when unity, which I thought was solid, turned to conflict, which will hopefully find some resolution in the future.   This is one of the most amazing statements I have ever seen about dialogue, and I offer it as a reminder of how we can come together while remaining who we are, believing what we believe, but finding a way to be community partners.    I am gratified to see how some of the gatherings during Pope Francis' current visit in the United States have included many meaningful moments of interreligious encounter.   May we commit ourselves to doing just this in the months to come, on our own, with each other. 

"Rabbi Abraham Skorka, in one of his earlier writings, made reference to the facade of the Metropolitan Cathedral that depicts the encounter between Joseph and his brothers. Decades of misunderstandings converge in that embrace.  There is weeping among them and also an endearing questions: Is my father still alive? During the times of national organization, this was the image they proposed, and not without reason.  It represented the longing for a reuniting of Angentinians.  This scene aims to work to establish a "culture of encounter;" instead it seems that we are seduced into dispersion and the abysses that history has created.  At times, we are better able to identify ourselves as builders of walls than as builders of bridges.  We lack the embrace, the weeping and the question about the father, for our patrimony, for the roots of our Fatherland.  There is an absence of dialogue. 
  Is it true that we Argentinians do not want dialogue?  I would not say it that way.  Rather, I think that we succumb to attitudes that do not permit us to dialogue: domination, not knowing how to listen, annoyance in our speech, preconceived judgments and so many others.  
   Dialogue is born from a respectful attitude toward the other person, from a conviction that the other person has something good to say.  It supposes that we can make room in our heart for their point of view, their opinion and their proposals.  Dialogue entails a warm reception and not a preemptive condemnation.  To dialogue, one must know how to lower defenses, to open the doors of one's home and offer warmth.   
  There are many barriers in everyday life that impede dialogue: misinformation, gossip, prejudices, defamation and slander.  All of these realities make up a certain cultural sensationalism that drowns out any possibility of openness to others.  Thus, dialogue and encounter falter.  
  But the facade of the Cathedral (with its depiction of the reconciliation between Joseph and his brothers) is still there, like an invitation."

Sent from my iPad

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