April 1. Piet and Annabi normally kept in the background and seldom shared their thoughts. As the groups were now approaching Holy Week Piet decided to share something that was deep in his heart. “The way I was brought up in the Dutch Reformed Church in my childhood years gave me a different spiritual insight into some of the Bible passages. In particular the passages from some of the prophets about Israel being God’s people had significance for us. Just listen to these words:
Scripture: “I will make a covenant of peace with them it shall be an everlasting covenant with them, and I will bless them and multiply them, and will set my sanctuary in the midst of them for evermore. They shall be my people and I shall be their God. Eze 37: 21-28.
Israel was a small nation often threatened by other big powers and at times overrun, almost destroyed, and taken into captivity. The role of the prophets was to keep them true to their God and challenge them when they sinned and followed other gods. We, as the Afrikaner nation, saw ourselves too like a chosen people, like the Israelites. Where we sinned, as I have discovered, was in oppressing others. Now, in very recent times, the attitude of Pope Francis is very much that everyone belongs together, we should all be one people, even if we worship God in different forms. “Fratelli Tutti. Brothers all.” It has been a long learning journey for me.”
Pope Francis: In his simple and direct way, St Francis expressed the essence of a fraternal openness that allows us to acknowledge, appreciate and love each person, regardless of physical proximity, regardless of where he or she was born or lives. Francis felt himself a brother to the sun, the sea and the wind, yet he knew that he was even closer to those of his own flesh. Wherever he went, he sowed seeds of peace and walked alongside the poor, the abandoned, the infirm and the outcast, the least of his brothers and sisters. FT 1-2.
Reflect, share, act, pray. how are we able to reflect and share on beliefs of fellow Christians and how can we relate to those of other religions, Muslims, Hindus, Jews and others? Can interreligious dialogue about common and shared values lead to a greater sense of human fraternity and acceptance? What can our particular religious family do?