1015 K Fri 21 Sep 2001
Today is the feast of Saint Matthew. Today's Liturgy of the
Hours describes him as "apostle and evangelist" - called
by Jesus when he was a tax collector and author of the first
Gospel in the Bible. Many scripture scholars today would regard
it as the second Gospel, influenced by Mark's Gospel and having
For this feast the Mass has a special first reading, Saint
Paul's letter to the Ephesians. It includes: "There is one
Lord, one faith, one baptism, and one God who is Father of all,
over all, through all and within all." (Here in Australia
the Jerusalem Bible is used).
I have been reading about the religion of Islam, which is
monotheistic like Christianity, believing in one God. I read
a few articles from the World Book encyclopedia and a chapter
of responses by Pope John Paul II in "Crossing the Threshold
of Hope" (1994, pages 91-94). Here are a few quotes:
"The Church also has a high regard for the Muslims, who
worship one God, living and subsistent, merciful and omnipotent,
the Creator of heaven and earth." (Nostra Aetate 3).
As a result of their monotheism, believers in Allah are particularly
close to us. ...
Islam is not a religion of redemption. There is no room for
the Cross and the Resurrection. Jesus is mentioned, but only
as a prophet who prepares for the last prophet, Muhammad. There
is also mention of Mary, His Virgin Mother, but the tragedy of
redemption is completely absent. For this reason not only the
theology but also the anthropology of Islam is very distant from
Nevertheless, the religiosity of Muslims deserves respect.
It is impossible not to admire, for example, their fidelity to
prayer. The image of believers in Allah who, without caring about
time or place, fall to their knees and immerse themselves in
prayer remains a model for all those who invoke the true God,
in particular for those Christians who, having deserted their
magnificent cathedrals, pray only a little or not at all. ...
In countries where fundamentalist movements come to
power, human rights and the principle of religious freedom are
unfortunately interpreted in a very one-sided way - religious
freedom comes to mean freedom to impose on all citizens the "true
religion." In these countries the situation of Christians
is sometimes terribly disturbing. Fundamentalist attitudes of
this nature make reciprocal contacts very difficult. All the
same, the Church remains always open to dialogue and cooperation.
In today's paper naval forces are involved in operation "Infinite
Justice". In The Australian, Roy Eccleston writes:
The first major challenge of George W. Bush's war against
terrorism is to avoid allowing the US's enemies to cast it as
a war against Islam. ...
Another article I read and was very impressed with was by
Anatole Kaletsky "Only thing to fear is fear itself",
from The Times, which I read on page 15 of The Australian.
Copyright J.R. Lilburne, 21 September 2001.