The City of Jerusalem. United in Adoration. “Join me on a virtual pilgrimage to the ancient city of Jerusalem, as we explore the three great faiths which share a common belief in God, the one God, the God of Abraham.
Book Excerpt. Chapter Twenty-Six: Walking with Mercy. (The Healing Eyes of Mercy. A Journey Towards the Light of God’s Love. By: Karen Sheehy).
Arriving in Jerusalem, I could sense the presence of God. Home to all three monotheistic faiths, that of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, the streets were filled with His praises. Called by many names, including Yahweh, God, Merciful Father, Jesus Christ, and Allah, almost every person in His holy city cried out in adoration. Amidst this praise, however, was a palpable pain, for although they were united in adoration, they were divided in beliefs and religious practices. Stopping for a brief overlook, our Jewish guide pointed out the holiest of sites for each of the three monotheistic faiths. Included was the Jewish Wailing Wall, a remnant of the ancient Jewish Temple, the Christian Church of the Holy Sepulcher, containing the actual Crucifixion and Resurrection sites of Jesus, and the Islamic Dome of the Rock, built over the destination of Mohammed’s Night Journey. Raising a glass of champaign, he toasted our Catholic tour group, saying, “welcome home.” At once, I heard the 3 o’clock Islamic call to prayer bellow throughout the city streets. Overwhelmed by the sheer power and contradiction of the moment, I humbly raised my glass in unified adoration.
The three great monotheistic faiths, otherwise known as the Abrahamic religions, include Judaism (founded in the 7th Century BCE), Christianity (founded around 33 AD) and Islam (founded around 630 AD). Each claims descent from Abraham, the ancient Israelite father of faith. The Israelite Nation, known as Jews, traces its Abrahamic lineage through he and Sarah’s son, Isaac. Christians make a similar claim, for they consider themselves grafted into the family tree through Christ’s New Covenant. Muslims, founded by Muhammad, find their connection through Abraham’s son, Ishmael, who was born to the slave girl, Hagar.
In 2005, these faiths comprised approximately 54% of the earth’s population (Christianity-33%, Islam-21%, and Judaism-2%). This represents about 3.6 billion people. Therefore, it seems prudent that these groups strive to live in harmony, seek common ground, and mutual respect. In common, they each:
- Profess a belief in the One God, who creates, loves, forgives, reveals, rules and judges humanity at the end of time.
- Accept God’s revealed truth through Abraham, the father of faith, and many other divinely inspired prophets.
- Preserve God’s revelation in sacred text and various oral teachings of their faith tradition.
- Judaism: The Jewish Bible, or Tanukh, consists of God’s Laws (Torah), the prophets (Neviim), and sacred writings (Ketuvium). Additionally, Jews look to the supplemental, rabbinical teachings of Midrash, Mishnah, and the Talmud.
- Catholicism: The revealed Word of God is contained within the 73 Books of the Old and New Testaments (teachings of Jesus, who is God incarnate), the Church’s Sacred Oral Traditions, and the Holy Spirit guided Magisterial teachings (Pope in union with the bishops) detailed in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
- Islam: The 114 Chapters (Suras) of the Qur’ran contain truths revealed by God through the Archangel Gabriel to the Prophet Muhammad. Additionally, Muslims look to the supplemental teachings (Hadith) and life story (Sira) of Muhammad, referred to as the Sunnah. The Faqih, or the legal teachings, provide supplemental guidelines for daily living.
- Follow an annual religious calendar, and religious, disciplinary and liturgical practices, including but not limited to:
- Judaism: adherence to the thirteen articles of faith, which summarize core Jewish beliefs, three times daily prayer for men, observation of the Saturday Sabbath, celebration of Shabbat and Passover, adherence to male circumcision, dietary laws, and other spiritual disciplines.
- Catholicism: belief in the Trinity, One God made of three persons (Father, Son and Holy Spirit), acceptance of the Nicene Creed, observation of the Sunday Sabbath through participation in the Mass (partaking in the consecrated bread and wine or Body and Blood of Christ), and reception of sacramental graces (Baptism, Eucharist, Reconciliation, Confirmation, Marriage, Holy Orders and Anointing of the Sick) as members of His Body, the Church.
- Islam: observation of Five Pillars, including believe in One God and Muhammad as His final and most perfect prophet, five times daily prayer, alms giving, annual observation of Ramadan, and the completion of a pilgrimage to Mecca (the birth place of Muhammad) if at all possible.
- Speak of humanity’s choice between good and evil, and an eternal reward for those who choose obedience to God’s moral law.
- Anticipate the coming of a Messiah, who will bring about the Kingdom of God on earth.
- Share a love of Jerusalem and deep reverence for the Temple Mount, where Abraham offered his son, in faith, as a sacrificial offering to God. Of course, Abraham’s son was saved, for God, Himself, provided the sacrificial lamb, (Genesis 22:1-13).
Among their commonalities, however, one finds significant religious and political differences. Of primary importance is Judaism and Islam’s rejection of Jesus Christ’s divinity and humanity, as God incarnate. Secondarily, is Christianity and Islam’s continuous call and desire to evangelize all nations. Subsequently, throughout much of their common history, these three faiths have found themselves at odds, or in the worst case scenario, at war. Overcoming these long-standing difficulties is at the heart of the Catholic Church’s call for interreligious dialogue. These new efforts or plans are contained within the Second Vatican Council’s Declaration on the Relation of the Church to Non-Christian Religions (Nostra Aetate).
In the spirit of Nostra Aetate, I pray that each of us strive to:
- Reflect the light of Christ to a world in desperate need of love.
- Enter, with prudence and charity, into discussion and collaboration with members of other religions.
- Acknowledge, preserve and encourage the spiritual and moral truths found within a non-Christian’s faith, social, and cultural life.
- Work together to preserve, and promote peace, liberty, social justice and moral values for all.
- Avoid discrimination against people, or harassment of any kind, on the basis of race, color, condition in life or religion.
Closing 3:00 Prayer for Divine Mercy.
Eternal Father, I offer You, the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Your Dearly Beloved Son, our Lord, Jesus Christ, in atonement for our sins and the sins of the entire world.
For the sake of His Sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the entire world. (Repeat two more times).
Jesus, I trust in You.
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