Friday, February 3, 2012


            Today we had a lecture from a local expert on the topic of Catholic-Jewish relationships in the Holy Land. He spoke extensively about the particular challenges which face these relations in this part of the world as the result of two factors. The first is the unique situation of Israel as a land with a majority Jewish and minority Catholic population. In the situation of Jewish-Catholic dialogue with which we are accustomed in the United States, Judaism is a minority and Catholicism, while not a majority, is a large percentage of the community. The second is the peculiarities of Israel as a nation founded precisely as a Jewish State and the history of this land. It was an elegant reminder to me that attempts at dialogue and relationships can never be discussed in the abstract. Rather, relationships and dialogue take place between people; people who live in a particular context and carry a particular history. Without understanding and respecting the various unique factors which accompany people in a particular time and place, it is impossible to forge any kind of relationship.
            Jerusalem, indeed the whole of the Holy Land, is a place which has seen far too little peace and has a history of poor relationships among its residents. It was difficult, yet necessary, to see that some of my more naïve assumptions about the possibilities of dialogue were not accurate. It reminded me that it is easy to make assumptions about people in all manner of circumstances. It is only by actually meeting with people and engaging them as they are that our assumptions can give way to a genuine understanding of the other. It is not only in the course of inter-religious dialogue that we make erroneous assumptions, nor do those assumptions concern only people thousands of miles from home or from a much different culture. Rather, we also tend to make assumptions about those people closest to us. I hope and pray that we all might learn to engage in genuine dialogue with other people, rather than simply make assumptions about them. Then and only then will we advance in genuine understanding and build a solid relationship. 

No comments:

Post a Comment