What does it mean to be Christian among friends who are followers of other religions? What attitude of heart do I bring to our friendship? How do I see myself in my relationship with them who are believers of other faiths?
These are the questions that I ask myself as I reflect on this Gospel according to Luke (18:9-14). I realize that having been born and raised a Catholic in this predominantly Catholic Christian country I have always taken for granted that everyone I met was Catholic.
But I was struck one day when I saw an image of the globe surrounded by the symbols of the different religions of the world printed on a friend’s t-shirt. It awakened me to an awareness of and appreciation for diversity. It is evident everywhere in God’s creation. It is in the divine scheme of things. The human race is a rainbow of diversity—people the world over are different in their ways, their views, preferences, beliefs, etc.–and this makes our journey through life exciting, and our relationships with fellow human beings opportunities for growing together in the fullness of God.
This is a humbling thought that gives me pause. Rather than be self-righteous about being a Catholic in this predominantly Catholic country, I am humbled by the thought of Christ Jesus’ message here. He did not speak of the righteousness of this world, or of how we must strive–like good students earning merit points for heaven–to observe the thou shall’s and thou shall not’s of our faith. It is the attitude of our heart and how we LOVE that matters in Christ. This is what is universal about our being Catholics, for Love is not exclusive to the domain of Christians.
As we live in this world among peoples of diverse cultures and beliefs, to be Christian is to embody the love of Christ in our ways. This love is an attitude of heart that glorifies the grandeur and majesty of God as we grope for wholeness and healing while moving together with “others” in the ever unfolding of our shared destiny in the Oneness of God.