Thursday, 12 December 2013 16:03
There are signs of hope in the midst of so much violence in the world, often caused by conflicts which are rooted on cultural and religious differences. Specifically, we know how Islam and Christianity have the mission to live and spread what they believe. The Christians call it “Evangelization” and the Muslims “Dawa”.
Silsilah always invites Muslims and Christians to move as brothers and sisters, as part of the human family, and be faithful to their obligations and beliefs. Guided by our understanding of dialogue that emphasizes the spirituality of life-in-dialogue we always look for opportunities, stories and documents which inspire us.
The new document of Pope Francis “ Evangelii Gaudium” ( The Joy of the Gospel) is an occasion for us to recall an inspiring document coming from Muslim scholars and see the link with the new document of Pope Francis.
In 2007 “A Common Word Between Us and You”, a document signed by 138 Muslim scholars and clerics and addressed to then Pope Benedict XVI and the leaders of other Christian churches, was released. The document dealt with the commandment to love God and love the neighbor, a commandment considered as the greatest commandment in both Islam and Christianity. The commandment became the basis for an exhortation upon Muslims and Christians both to deal with one another in accordance with the commandment. A line from the document goes: “Let us respect each other, be fair, just and kind to one another and live in sincere peace, harmony and mutual good will.” The document defined a mission for Muslims in terms of relating with each other and with those of other faiths.
On November 26, 2013 Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation “Evangelii Gaudium” was released to the world. The exhortation is written in a language that, according to Archbishop Claudio Celli, President of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, “ is simple, familiar and direct”.
The opening paragraphs of the exhortation underscore the joy that a Christian who has encountered Christ, feels because then he/she feels the love of God. This is in contrast to those Christians who strike us as having “lives [that] seem like Lent without Easter.”
This joy should also be a mark of the Christian on a mission of evangelization to share the love of God with others. The Pope quotes from a source that “life is attained and matures in the measure that it is offered up in order to give life to others.” And so typical of the language of the whole exhortation the Pope then says “Consequently, an evangelizer must never look like someone who has just come back from a funeral!”
The mission of the Christian is to preach the Gospel to “those who do not know Jesus Christ or who have always rejected him.” But those engaged in evangelization “ Instead of seeming to impose new obligations, … should appear as people who wish to share their joy…”
The Philippines has, in the months of 2013 since September, undergone significant experiences of destruction and great suffering from natural and man-made calamities – the rebel attack on Zamboanga City, the earthquake in Bohol and Cebu and the wrath of the strongest typhoon ever recorded. These occasions of sorrow and anguish experienced by both Muslims and Christians and people of other faiths particularly in Zamboanga City, were also occasions of evangelization.
We are called to move with love and share this love always, especially in time of calamities and suffering. We have beautiful stories of love even in Zamboanga in the midst of the conflict that started on September 9.
It is worth repeating what has been quoted from Evangelii Gaudium : “… life is attained and matures in the measure that it is offered up in order to give life to others. This is certainly what mission means.”
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