Congratulations to the Muslim community on the completion of the holy month of Ramadan, which will culminate with the holiday of Eid Al-Fitr.
The tradition of inviting people of other faiths to a ritual meal, known as an Iftar dinner, which breaks the day’s fast, is highly commendable. Besides the joy of dining together, it offers a pilgrimage and a dialogue.
Pope Francis brought out this double message of a very prophetic and exemplary pilgrimage and dialogue when he invited a rabbi and a sheikh on a joint pilgrimage from Rome to Jerusalem in May 2014.
The trio indeed invited the monotheists (Jews, Muslims and Christians) to a common pilgrimage of prayer to the same God, following the example of their ancestor Abraham. God called Abraham to make a pilgrimage from Ur to Canaan.
A pilgrimage has a characteristic of spiritual formation. It is a common way of peace towards God and towards each other. It responds to the fervent desire of all those who aspire to peace and dream of a world in which men and women can live as brothers and sisters, rather than as competitors and enemies. A pilgrimage challenges us to build bridges instead of mastering differences and conflicts.
The dynamic of a pilgrimage passes through the link and the dialogue. Dialogue is a conversation where people seek to relate to others despite their differences.
People from different backgrounds begin to realize their commonalities and gradually pay less attention to their differences. Dialogue is one of the remedies for the conflicts and wars that destroy our society.
“Without dialogue, the barriers of prejudice, suspicion and misunderstanding cannot be effectively broken down,” says religious scholar Frederick Streng.
Genuine dialogue must be based on openness, mutual respect and acceptance, understanding, trust, determination, patience, courage, prayer, etc. Samaritan woman.
The Jews had no relations with the Samaritans because the latter had historically been allied with the Assyrians and Persians and intermarried with them. Jewish law considered them unclean and pariahs. Jesus’ approach was therefore risky.
Using the woman’s own psychological feelings and thoughts, Jesus captures her attention to win her. With great respect and love, Jesus helps the woman know that he is not just a Jew, but the Messiah.
This approach leads the woman to open up to dialogue. An encounter, which started at a superficial level, ends at a deep spiritual level; a common pilgrimage beyond Jacob’s well to the well of the word of God.
The Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue of the Catholic Church offers a dialogue of life, action and theology. The dialogue of life is at work when people strive to live in a spirit of openness and good neighbourliness, sharing their joys and their sufferings, their struggles and their human difficulties.
In action dialogue, people work together to ensure that their community truly and concretely experiences integral development, liberation and a just society. Joint projects/actions, such as the establishment of schools, clinics, water supply projects, etc., can help bring people together and also uplift their human condition; for a just society.
Theological dialogue takes place when theologians and experts from different religious groups make a common study/reflection on given questions.
It helps them to appreciate each other’s ways of seeking God and to resist Satan, the common enemy.
Indeed, if people come together as friends and recognize their roots in God and their unity in humanity, all other things become easy.
Monotheists must contribute to the ongoing construction of the global village, through interreligious dialogue, which also facilitates our common pilgrimage to God and to the promised land.