A Tearful Embrace

While the jury is still out, it may be that the most enduring image of the Pope's recent pilgrimage to the Holy Land will be the picture of the Holy Father embracing a rabbi and a Muslim imam in front of the Wailing Wall. They are quoted as having said, "We did it." These three men had known each other in Argentina where they had established a relationship. Coming together in Israel and "collapsing" in a tearful embrace, they gave the world a picture of what peace could look like if it were embraced by all men and women of faith.

I could not help but think of this image as I was pondering the words of St. Cyril of Alexandria this morning during prayer. We all receive one and the same Spirit, the one Holy Spirit, I mean the Holy Spirit. So in a way we are blended together with one another and with God. Even though we are many individuals and Christ, the Spirit of the Father and his own Spirit, dwells in each one of us individually, still the Spirit is really one and indivisible. And so that one Spirit binds together the separated spirits of each one of us so that we are seen to be one, together in Christ (St. Cyril of Alexandria's Commentary on the Gospel of John).

A little later in the same commentary, St. Cyril writes: There is another way to show that we are united through sharing in the Holy Spirit. If we abandon living as mere animals and surrender ourselves wholly to the laws of the Spirit, it is surely beyond question that by effectively denying our own life and taking upon ourselves the transcendent likeness of the Holy Spirit who is joined unto us, we are practically transformed into another nature. We are no longer mere men, but sons of God and citizens of Heaven, through becoming partakers of the divine nature.

The image of three men of faith embracing will probably be forgotten in the not too distant future. Other images will crowd them out, images such as we witnessed this past weekend when another mentally ill man killed six people and himself in a anger fueled rant. The peace of Sacramento was shattered by this horrific act of violence. Yet we continue to pray and work for peace, a peace that sets aside obvious differences and embraces that which makes us all the same. As the lyrics of a popular folk song remind us: "When will we ever learn?"

Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M., Administrator

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