Brotherhood is the Way to Get to Know One Another …
Living Words from John Paul II
Edited by Abraham A. van Kempen
Published Sunday, February 21, 2021
Each week we let Saint Pope John Paul II share meaningful signposts to spark socio-economic resolves through justice and righteousness combined with mercy and compassion; in short, love.
"Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity!
Hinneh ma tov u-ma na "im, shevet akhim gam yakhad!" (Psalm 133: 1). *2
[Editor's note! God PROPOSES. He does NOT impose. He does DISPOSE. How? Don't ask! It's one of those divine mysteries.]
May all the peoples of Jerusalem soon be reconciled and blessed in Abraham! If Christians see themselves as brothers of all people and are supposed to behave accordingly, how much more is this sacred obligation than when they face Jewish people [and Muslims]? "Whoever meets Jesus Christ meets Judaism" [and Islam]. *1
Unfortunately, the mere thought of the Holy Land gives rise in our hearts to anxiety and sorrow because of the violence that continues to stain that region and the excessive flow of innocent blood poured out by both Israelis and Palestinians that hinders peace and justice from dawning. *2
The innocent victims, the destroyed or dispersed families, the forever destroyed cultural values and art treasures are tragic evidence of where discrimination and contempt for human dignity can lead. Inspired by perverse theories about an apparent difference in human value or racism, segregate people into 'valuable' and 'livable' versus 'unworthy.' All people are equally valuable and essential before God. *1
Today, therefore, in faith and hope, we are addressing a fervent prayer to the God of Shalom so that enmity and hatred may no longer overpower those who turn to the biblical Abraham, our spiritual father. Jews, Christians, and Muslims may lead the way to an explicit knowledge of the ties that bind them and the responsibilities that lie on each one's shoulders. *2
Dialogue is the way to get to know one another. Jews and Christians [and Muslims], as sons [and daughters] of Abraham, are called to be a blessing for the world by working together for peace and justice among all people and peoples, in the fullness and depth as God Himself intended them for us. The more this sacred obligation shapes our encounter, the more it is a blessing.*1
It is my fervent hope that a solution to the Middle East crises may draw nearer. A peace based on equitable recognition of all rights includesa just settlement of the Palestinian question. I also hope for a particular statute that, under international guarantees—as my predecessor, Paul VI indicated—would respect Jerusalem's unique nature, a heritage sacred to the veneration of millions of believers of the three great monotheistic religions, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. *3
Upon entering Jerusalem in January 1964, the words of Pope Paul VI are worth repeating:
"In your wishes and prayers, implore us for unity and peace over this unique land visited by God!
Let us pray here together for the grace of genuine and deep brotherhood between all people, between all peoples! ... happy are those who love you.
Yes, peace dwell in your wall, flourish in your palaces. I ask you for peace. I long for happiness!" *1
Human progress can only be secured with guaranteed respect for every person's inalienable dignity and rights. The world is still far from achieving this goal.Many forms of injustice and discrimination still inflict the weak in too many parts of the world. It is the solemn duty of every democratic system to promote and protect fundamental human rights and every category of these rights. *4
Every analysis must necessarily start from the premise thatevery human being is endowed with a dignity that must never be lessened, impaired, or destroyed but must instead be respected and safeguarded if peace is built up. Permit me to enumerate some of the most basic human rights that are universally recognized:
- the right to life, liberty, and security of person;
- the right to food, clothing, housing, sufficient health care, rest, and leisure;
- the right to freedom of expression, education, and culture; the right to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion, and the right to manifest one's religion either individually or in community, in public or in private;
- the right to choose a state of life, to found a family, and to enjoy all conditions necessary for family life;
- the right to property and work, to adequate working conditions and a just wage;
- the right of assembly and association;
- the right to freedom of movement, to internal and external migration;
- the right to nationality and residence;
- the right to political participation and the right to participate in the free choice of the people's political system to which one belongs. *3
We still have a long way to mend a world scarred by disputes and hostilities.The God of justice and peace and mercy and reconciliation calls us to collaborate without wavering. If we can join our hearts and hands to respond to the divine call, the light of the Eternal One will shine to illumine all peoples and show us paths to peace, to Shalom.
With help from Heaven, in taking this road to brotherhood, the Church expresses deep sorrow at "the failures of her sons and daughters in every age." In the act of repentance (teshuvà), we havesought forgiveness for our responsibility connected in any way with the scourges of anti-Judaism and anti-Semitism [and savagery against other religions].
Let us walk with one heart in brotherhood.
"Hallelu et Adonay kol goyim
shabbehuHu kol ha-ummim
ki gavar "alenu khasdo
we-emet Adonay le-"olam". *2
[Editor’s note! Loosely translated, as the Bible Says: “destroy your enemies by becoming friends” (Matthew 5: 43 – 48). Let’s have tea and work toward a peaceful Israel-Palestine. If it’s possible there, it’s possible everywhere.”]
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