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Please click on the link for the full newsletter 10th Sunday Ordinary Time 050616

The story of the widow of Nain in the Gospel for this weekend reminds me of when I had the opportunity to visit Israel and go to the Church which commemorates Jesus raising her son from death to life.

Nain is one of the poorer towns I visited and was probably more Muslim than Jewish or Christian. The balance of numbers between these religious faiths alters from town to town and area to area in Israel. I found it remarkable and even amusing that the Church was overseen by a Muslim family who lived next door. When our bus pulled up, two ladies came out from the house with an ancient key which was about the size of a squash racket and opened the Church for us to enter.

What delighted me was that this took place on the same day I had visited Nazareth and entered the White Mosque. Our pilgrimage guide was a Nazarene born Roman Catholic who was a member of the Church of the Annunciation. When we entered the Mosque, our guide warmly greeted the Imam and they embraced and stood side by side with their arms bound together as the Imam was introduced to our group. This pair had grown up together, gone to school together and played together. They were brought up in two different religions and still they were the best of friends.

These moments took place in the countryside in which Jesus had grown up. It seemed common in these small towns, especially with people who were not all that wealthy, to care for each other regardless of their religious background – Jews, Christians and Muslims. These people were out of the way of the political main-stream, they watched out for each other and respected each other’s beliefs. They weren’t attached to their property to the point it divided them.

Here in the country I call, “God’s thumbprint on the world,” is an image of the fact that everyone is on a different journey in search of the truth. The Muslim women looked after a Christian church and opened it for Christian pilgrims. Jesus came for the poor and the forgotten. He came for the Jew and the gentile. Accepting and loving others despite our differences is a hallmark of good religion. It is possible. After all, even NSW and Qld NRL supporters can still get on.

Fr Bob Harwood


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