The joy and hope of the Easter Season is with us in a very different world than the first disciples experienced, and yet there are some interesting similarities as well. The world of the first disciples and the initial growth of Christianity was in a very culturally diverse, and religiously pluralistic world, much like today. In fact, the United States, like others, is one of the most religiously diverse nations in the world.
The Christian movement initially probably began not from a single center but from many different centers where different groups of disciples of Jesus gathered and tried to make sense of what they had experienced with him and what had happened to him at the end of his public ministry.
Faiths Engaging with Each Other
Early Christianity, by moving into different realms of the different universes of thought and of religion in the Greco-Roman world, adopted a lot of concepts from other religions, lots of them religions of different varieties which enriched the early Christian movement tremendously.
This probably should encourage us to say that our discourse, not only inner Christian discourse with other denominations, but also our dialogue with other religions, with Jews, with Muslims, with Buddhists, and others is indeed very fruitful. In fact, our Catholic identity is strengthened when we engage meaningfully with those of other faiths or those who do not espouse any religious affiliation.
Interfaith Exchange Vital to Evangelization
At the time of Vatican II, it was Pope Paul VI who was the first to help us understand what it means to be Catholic in a diverse world that is changing rapidly before our very eyes. He says that the Church must be in dialogue with the world, if for no other reason than because God is in dialogue with us through Christ.
In 1984, St. Pope John Paul II reflected that interfaith dialogue is fundamental for the Church, based on the very life of the triune God, as well as on respect and love for every human person.
“As far as the local churches are concerned, they must commit themselves in this direction, helping all the faithful to respect and esteem the values, traditions, and convictions of other believers.”
Thanks to Interfaith Youth Core, we have Better Together Day on April 7, thousands of people across the country will be working to promote interfaith literacy through interfaith discussions, events, and acts of service. This literacy isn’t just an understanding of religious facts and texts. It’s an understanding of how different people live their beliefs and values and how those values influence the common good.