Today at church, the sermon was about the story in the Bible where people outside of the apostles were driving out demons and the apostles wanted to stop those folks.  Jesus said,

Do not stop them! No one who performs a miracle in my name will soon be able to speak evil of me. Anyone who is not against us is for us. – Mark 9:39

The priest then talked about Pope Francis’s visit (of course.  It was a big week for Catholics.) and reflected on the interfaith service at ground zero.  The interfaith service consisted of representatives not only of many Christian sects in our country but also the Jewish faith, Islamic, Hindu, Buddhist, etc.  The local priest said this about New York City’s faith neighborhood, “We — who have the honor of pasturing our people — we work together, we pray together, we meet together, we talk to one another, and we try to serve as one, the city we are proud to call our earthly home while awaiting our true and eternal residence in heaven.”

… and I think some are having a heart attack about someone who believes their God is different from the Muslim or Hindu God is watching this all unfold with Christian leaders as well.

I’ve been reading Richard Rohr’s book “Everything Belongs: The Gift of Contemplative Prayer” and he says:

The purpose of prayer and religious seeking is to see the truth about reality, is to see what is.  And at the bottom of what is is always goodness.  The foundation is always love.

The parish priest of the church we attended said that the neighboring churches in the area (all different denominations) contributes to and run a local thrift store.  This is a store unlike any other.  In addition to selling goods, they provide services for the community in that they open it up to 12-step meetings, yoga, financial classes… services their community needs but the community cannot sustain on its own.

Whatever is good and perfect comes down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. – James 1:17

That statement from James is an amazing statement, no doubt.  He is saying that WHATEVER good that happens in the world, even if it happens from someone from a different faith than our own, or from your enemy…  good = GOD.  God doesn’t only bless good deeds if they come from people of a Christian faith or a particular sect within it, God’s works happen across the globe.

I had an interesting conversation some weeks ago with a pastor about religious unity.  He said that people oftentimes confuse unity with unification.  These two are completely different.  If we can work in unity, show to the world what our Father does for us and preach it and live it and show LOVE then we are doing the good God wanted us to.  The problem comes in when people start believing that there needs to be unification.  People get frustrated with the differing dogmas and lay claim on what is correct and incorrect, biblical and unbiblical.  They may start driving people away from the faith altogether or even get lost in the weeds themselves in that practice.

Pope FrancisIt seems the Catholics are being very cheerleady about the pope’s visit, but it is hard not to love the man.  He calls “unfettered capitalism” the new tyrany, he drives a Ford Focus instead of a Mercedes, he says we should LOVE everyone (gay people, man…  he said we need to love them), he pays for his room at the guest house (he doesn’t stay in the palace), and he reiterates time and time again about the necessity of us giving more and doing more for the poor and oppressed in our world.  He is a servant, not a king.  Our uber rich and religious zealots need to take a lesson.

Along with the “everything belongs” ideology, my parting words are Rohr’s and they are this, “Either we see the divine image in all created things, or we don’t see it at all.  Once we see it, we’re trapped.  We see it once and the circle keeps moving out.  If we still try to exclude some (sick people, blacks, people on welfare, gays, or whomever we’ve decided to hate), we’re not there.  We don’t yet understand.  If the world is a temple, then our enemies are sacred, too.  The ability to respect the outsider is probably the litmus test of true seeing [seeing the divine].  It doesn’t even stop with human beings and enemies and the least of the brothers and sisters.  It moves to frogs and pansies and weeds.  Everything becomes enchanting with true sight.  One God, one world, one truth, one suffering, and one love.  All we can do is participate.”