There is so much division in the world today. Society tends to put everyone into boxes without looking deeper into their souls. We are all guilty of this. We tend to separate ourselves from those who are different; physical appearance, race, religion, political and social ideals, and any number of other categories. In an ever-changing world, filled with the strife of war, fear of terrorist attacks, and plain old everyday bigotry and xenophobia; we need to step back and reflect on how we, ourselves, view our fellow humans, the world, and the causes of strife and anguish. We need to pray that we can be true examples of Christ-like behavior in today’s society.
I am reminded of an illustration I used in one of my homilies (the source of which I do not recall), “Mark Twain used to tell a joke that he put a dog and a cat in a cage together as an experiment, to see if they could get along. They did. So he put in a bird, pig and goat. They, too, got along fine after a few adjustments. Then he put in a Baptist, a Presbyterian, and a Catholic, and all hell broke loose.” Twain did not even bother to speculate putting together a Christian, a Muslim, and a Jew. That was unthinkable in his day. In today’s world, we all live in the same cage, in the same city, in the same world, with people of other religions and look what happens.
We forget that the three main monotheistic faiths all worship the same God. We focus on the differences and ignore that which we have in common. We allow bigotry to guide our actions. Even within each of these faiths, there are differences that create various factions; divisions that become hateful and violent toward each other and the entire world. Within our own Christian faith we have many divisions; Catholic- catholic, C/catholic-Protestant, traditional-evangelical, conservative-progressive, and various other combinations. Divisions that make them appear to be different faiths.
I am reminded of a story I heard many years ago. Two people were discussing the issue of abortion, one pro-life, the other pro-choice. The pro-life person says “Abortion is wrong and I will kill anyone who disagrees.” Is that really “pro-life”? I think not. We all have heard many Christians say things that are so un-christian you wonder what scripture they are reading. You can’t even watch the news today without hearing someone misusing/misinterpreting scripture for their own agenda.
There is only one God, and all who seek God with a sincere heart are led to Him, though they may call Him by different names. We all are children of the same Father. This truth is hard for religious people to appreciate because religious people all over the world tend to claim that they have exclusive access to God and the truth. We all need to get off our “high horse” and follow the Christ by his example of loving one’s neighbor as oneself and realize that, contrary to one particular group’s view, God does NOT hate anyone.
Rev. Fr. Andrew Smith grew up in Appleton. WI. He studied Theology, Philosophy and Sociology at Lakeland University in Sheboygan, WI and completed his theological studies at Holy Redeemer Seminary of the UICC. Fr. Andrew was ordained to the diaconate in December of 2010 and to the Order of Presbyters in May of 2011. He entered his novitiate in the Order of Preachers Old Catholic in August of 2016 and took his three- year vows in May 2017. Fr. Andrew is pastor of St Dominic Old Catholic Church in Oshkosh, WI. He enjoys cooking, reading, writing and is an avid history buff.