Year of Mercy: A Multi-Religious Reality

(23) Pope Francis makes it clear that his emphasis on mercy is not restricted to Roman Christianity, or to Christianity itself.  Mercy is at the heart of Judaism and Islam and (in his words) “other noble religious traditions.”

It is only speculation on my part, but I am guessing that the Pope’s emphasis on Judaism and Islam was not only an acknowledgment of the existence of mercy in each religion, but also a hope that these two religions and peoples will exhibit mercy toward each other in ways that often seem to be missing.  Again, the Pope did not go so far as to say this in the document, but I wonder.

What he does say is that he intends for The Year of Mercy to include interfaith dialog, with the aim that wherever closed-mindedness and disrespect exists, it might come to an end, and that all forms of violence and discrimination might be driven out of our relationships.  And already in this Year of Mercy, Pope Francis is enacting his own exhortation.

For us, the Pope’s message is not only one for the earth to hear, it is one for each community to heed.  In too many places, Christians are strangers (or worse) to those of other faiths, and to other Christians as well (theologically and institutionally), behaving more like competitors than manifestors of the common mercy of God.  If we have eyes to see and ears to hear what Pope Francis is saying, we will recognize this is a call to all of us.

[Note: the numbers at the beginning of each meditation correspond to the section of the Pope’s document on which it is based]

About Steve Harper

Dr. Steve Harper is retired seminary professor, who taught for 32 years in the disciplines of Spiritual Formation and Wesley Studies. Author and co-author of 45 books. He is also a retired Elder in The Florida Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church.
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