Tag Archives: Netherlands

17 September: Dialogue, Missionary Style.

I was with a Missionary of Africa, fifty years a priest, mostly in Northern Ghana, where both faiths live side-by-side.

‘Always, if I wanted to do something, I would go to the mosque and I would talk to the Imam, and be seen talking to the Imam. Do nothing without telling him, then he knows you are not trying to undermine him or his people. Always, always  Muslims are included, try to do nothing separately, be sure that the whole community can benefit.

‘Do not confine your work only to the poorest. You could be seen as undermining the better-off, especially if some of them are Muslim and see the poor Christians or traditional believers being helped, becoming organised, as a threat. Always be open.

Today, in my prison work in Holland, I share an office with the Muslim chaplain. I insisted, yes. Our door is always open. The prisoners walk by – many of them are Moroccan – they see us laughing together, they stop, they think, ‘What is this?’

We are all called to be missionaries, as Pope Francis insists, so stop, think, ‘What are we doing, what should we be doing, as witnesses to Christ among our neighbours?’

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April 20: Jerusalem IV: Beware: Angels!

bethesda.tile

My mother found this old Delft tile for us. It tells a story of Jerusalem, of a special corner of Jerusalem, the Pool of Bethesda, where Jesus told the disabled man to pick up his bed and walk away – to a new life. (See John 5, as the artist helpfully tells us.)

Of course there was trouble since this event took place on a Sabbath day, and the great and the good were concerned to keep the Sabbath holy. But they failed to see the bigger picture. Would they have regarded a woman giving birth on a Sabbath day, as unavoidable but regrettable? Surely not, but here is another new life before their very eyes, and they miss-see it.

The Missionaries of Africa (White Fathers) now live at the site of Bethesda, at the Church of St Anne, mother of Mary, grandmother of Jesus. It is a place of study and reconciliation between denominations, faiths and races, a place of welcome.

Jesus took on the role of the healing Angel at the Pool of Bethesda; the Missionaries of Africa hope to contribute to healing a broken world. Like Melchizedek they are messengers of the Lord, Angels in human form: please pray for them.

Missionaries of Africa, White Fathers

MMB.

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