John Lilburne's journal about Islam, Saint Matthew's feast day and operation Infinite Justice.
 

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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 many similarities.

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 Christianity.

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.