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December 18, 2021

TWO WOMEN
A Reflection from the Interpath Traditions
by Thomas P. Bonacci, C.P.

Interfaith love and respect encourage people to encounter one another as they quest for the meaning and purpose of life. This deep sharing is a sacred time born out of a deep desire to live in peace, respecting the diversity of beliefs, cultures, and practices.
           
For far too long, interfaith work has been a matter of explanation, defense, and apologetics. The temptation is to reduce interfaith relations to information about different religions rather than experience the faith in question in a personal and engaging way. However, since no two people understand or hold their faith in the same way, interfaith encounters can be dynamic, unique, and transformative.   
           
Partners in interfaith dialogue must not only be open to the wisdom and challenges of another’s faith tradition but willing to explore the interfaith implications of their own tradition. Every faith tradition has a transcendent aspect by which it opens itself to the World, the Cosmos, and others. Think of Jesus, who reminded Nicodemus of the Spirit moving in the World in ways surprising and alarming (see John 3: 8). When the transcendent aspect is lost or forgotten, religions collapse under their own weight. 
           
This openness to the wisdom of others helps us to discover our friends as we journey on the road of life. The self-transcendent element found in any faith tradition allows us to forge peace during times of conflict and division.
           
The Holiday Season is a perfect example of the delight, love, and understanding gifting all of us if we can savor the contribution each tradition offers. Menorahs and Christmas Trees grace the town hall plaza. The observance of the Solstice and the New Year offer the hope of a new day. The lighting of candles recalls the virtues necessary for living a blessed life. We might do well to honor the faith traditions around us so we might discover another beautiful aspect of ourselves.
           
The Fourth Sunday of Advent in the Christian West proclaims a Gospel in which two women meet and rejoice. The same Spirit blesses them as they give birth to two very different children. The older woman has lived a long life of disappointment.  The younger woman faces a life of uncertainty. The younger woman, Mary, journeyed far to be of service to her cousin, Elizabeth. Their differences are remarkable, their love is transformative, and their courage gives hope in times of trouble. These two women rejoice in the Spirit as they come to the aid of one another. Elizabeth encourages Mary to be firm in her belief as Mary serves Elizabeth in the final days of her pregnancy. These two women come from the same Jewish Faith Tradition. Millions of Christians find in these two women the example of what it means to be a person of integrity, faith, and courage. The World of interfaith love and wisdom is all around us. We need only be open to the gift of one another in all the affairs of our lives.
           
Blessings to you, Holy Community, for having the courage to seek the wisdom of others. Thank you for opening your hearts to those you meet along the pathways of life. Be aware of my love and prayers for you.     
 

Notice
 
As things begin to return to a new normal, we at The Interfaith Peace Project are here for you in any way that you need us. The Antioch Center is now open to fully vaccinated people on Wednesdays, from 11:00 am to 2:00 pm. We are vigilant and will adjust to any and all recommendations from the state and county. We will continue our work through Zoom as we add in person programs. If you would like to schedule an in person or Zoom program or would like a phone appointment with any of us, give us a call. You may call or email Tom at:
 
Tom Bonacci
[email protected]
925-787- 9279