Tag Archives: National Catholic Reporter

REFLECTION: The learning of two different cultures

Joan Chittister, osbby Joan Chittister, osb
Pax Christi USA Teacher of Peace

We talk a lot about listening to the ideas of people whose life situations are different than ours but, in truth, it’s often a very difficult thing to do. We all live in little self-funded modern ghettoes where the people in our neighborhoods are just like us.

We mix with our kind of people, wear the same kind of clothes, work in the same kinds of places, do the same kind of things, have the same kind of educational background, and talk about the same subjects. And why not? After all, if truth were known, we seldom find ourselves in anybody else’s neighborhood. And so we seldom if ever find ourselves in a situation where we can learn what the rest of the world has to teach us.

So, we bloom where we are planted. We travel in predictable patterns. We seldom mix with cultures not our own. Which is why last week was a special gift for me.

I was having breakfast with an African-American mother whose oldest child, her son, had been murdered in an outburst of gunfire that has become so common in a society now armed to the teeth.

The trial will begin in May — probably a short one because there is so little mystery about it. It was simply a long night in a bar that ended in a short argument and death. What was unusual was the mother herself. “I don’t judge,” she said. “God will have to do that.” Then, after a bit of silence, “I just tell my family that we bear the loss but the other family will have to bear the shame. And that will be even harder.”...

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REFLECTION: Carry on Jesus’ work of reconciliation and love

Bishop Thomas Gumbletonby Bishop Thomas Gumbleton
Pax Christi USA Teacher of Peace

There are very many things that we could reflect on when it comes to this feast of Pentecost. I think, in a certain way, we overlook how important this feast really is in our own spirit life and what it has meant in the history of the church. Saint Luke, in the Acts of the Apostles, describes for us, in a very symbolic way, what happened on that first Pentecost. He’s not recording history. The history probably was closer to what’s in the Gospel of John — that Jesus came on Easter Sunday night and gave the disciples the Spirit.

pentecost-artBut Luke wants us to appreciate the full depth of the meaning of this feast, so he goes back to other Scripture passages. He wants us to see what happened here on that Pentecost or Easter Sunday night as like what happened at the beginning of creation. He wants us to see this is a new creation. In the book of Genesis, it’s described as, “Before the worlds were made there was chaos and a terrible wind blowing through that chaos.”

“That’s the wind that comes down upon the house,” as Luke describes it, “Shaking the walls, this wind.” The word “spirit” in Hebrew is wind. Luke is trying to get us to remember what happened. Now we know, not in seven days, day by day, but with a big bang out of nothing, God brings forth the beginnings of the universe. Now we know that this was billions of years ago. God’s creation has been going on now, these billions of years.

The more we learn about it, the more soundly we understand that it is what God has done. We look up at the sky and we see the Milky Way and we think, “What an extraordinary event that Milky Way is.” It’s only one; there are thousands. God is continuing to create. The universe is expanding, going on. There could well be other places in this huge universe where there is human life like our own. It’s a wondrous, extraordinary thing what God began — that creation from nothing...

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