December 10, 2017


Sometimes we talk about what a scandal it is that there is so much dissension within Christianity itself and oftentimes even more animosity toward other religions. And yet every religion claims to live by some version of “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” One of the greatest attractions to Catholicism for me is our openness, acceptance, and respect for others who behave differently than we do or maybe don’t believe at all.

Every one of us is on a journey called life and in our lifetime we all have various experiences of God that either enhance our spirituality or can detract from it. Why do we believe that each of us has to respond or react to God’s call in the same way? There is a danger in believing that you belong to the “one true faith” and therefore that anyone else who believes differently does not. The danger is you begin to look at your own experience of God as superior to others and therefore you are more likely to “tolerate” their beliefs rather than “accept” them. The God I believe in today represents everyone’s journey and accompanies everyone on his/her journey. That journey may differ greatly among us depending on our family, educational background, religious history, childhood experiences, and trauma. There are many wonderful people in our world who would refer to themselves as “atheists” and say they don’t believe in God. Sometimes I wonder whether they don’t believe in God as God has been presented to them (sitting in a throne in the sky), but may be open to a different understanding of God (God is love). But either way, in many cases, they probably have done a lot of thinking, soul searching and studying before coming to their conclusion that God doesn’t exist. 

They are not my enemy any more than believers of other faith traditions are my enemy or any less in God’s eyes because they believe differently.

So where do you go from here? A good start is to ask yourself how you react or what you think when you meet someone whose religious beliefs vary from yours? Honestly! Do you feel bad for them? Do you wish they would convert and be saved? Do you wonder why you are favored and they are not? Do you try to convince them of the deficiencies of their beliefs?

Or do you thank God that this person is in your life and that you each have the ability to teach and learn from each other? Why is it ingrained in so many of us that we need to prove that we are right and they are wrong? Especially when none of us will ever know God completely? I don’t get it.

Enjoy life.
Fr. Coyne


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