14 July 2008

A Living Word (I): Learning from others: the monotheistic faiths

Patrick Comerford

Some years ago, Newsweek magazine ran a front cover feature proclaiming the oft-forgotten truth that Jews, Christians and Muslims all claim to be the children of Abraham, and that the members of the three great monotheistic faiths share much in common with one another – that those common beliefs and values outweigh our differences.

Why is so difficult, then, to share with one another what we believe, and the common values that come from those beliefs.

The great monotheistic faiths are often seen as Judaism, Christianity and Islam. But we could also add the Sikhs and the Bahá’i community. All believe in the one God. All revere sacred scripture, even if we cannot agree on the content of those holy books, and all believe that our God wants a world where we are at peace with one another, where we love one another as we love ourselves, and where that love is translated in action for social justice and universal peace.

In our changing Ireland, the small Jewish community has a lengthy and respected place in Irish life, culture and politics. There are now more than 30,000 Muslims in Ireland, many of them Irish-born. And the other monotheistic traditions – the Sikhs and the Bahá’i community – are growing.

Instead of seeing other faith traditions as exotic or foreign, how can we see them as traditions that can contribute positively to Irish values? Is there something new we can learn from them – something new about ourselves?

Join me this week on a pilgrimage of exploration, learning something from these faith communities. I hope your faith, your hope, and your love will be strengthened – because each of these traditions has enriched my life too.

This contribution to A Living Word was first broadcast on 14 July 2008 on RTÉ Radio 1. A Living Word is broadcast Monday to Friday at 6:40 a.m. as part of Risin Time with Maxi and repeated Tuesday to Saturday at 12:58 a.m. as part of Late Date. A Living Word is Radio 1's long-standing two-minute daily meditation. The archives are available at:http://www.rte.ie/radio1/alivingword/1179969.html

Canon Patrick Comerford is Director of Spiritual Formation, the Church of Ireland Theological College

No comments: