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Fraternity vs Fratricide

“It’s mine you can’t have it!”  I am sure that we have heard these words at times from a petulant child or perhaps we have even heard ourselves speaking these words.  Certainly, Christians have spoken these words although in a more refined or theological langue: “Outside the church there is no salvation!”  Or “Unless you are born again you cannot be saved.”  But what they are really saying is God and/or Jesus is mine and you can’t have him.

In today’s Gospel Jesus offends the people in His “native place” because He suggests that healing and salvation might be offered to outsiders like Naaman the Syrian.  The people of Jesus’ native place “were all filled with fury.”  Over the centuries much violence has been done in the name of God or to protect God as if He needed protection.  When we claim God is only our God, who loves only us, we are petulant children screaming: “It’s mine, you can’t have it!”

Pope Francis has just finished his historic trip to Iraq.  He once again reiterated that violence done in the name of God is a blasphemy.  Sadly, it is a blasphemy committed by all three Abrahamic faiths over the centuries.  Pope Francis challenges himself and the people of all faiths: “Today, however, we reaffirm our conviction that fraternity is more durable than fratricide, that hope is more powerful than hatred, that peace is more powerful than war.”

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