In Maya Angelou’s Wouldn’t Take Nothing for My Journey Now, she wrote, “Human beings are more alike than unalike, and what is true anywhere is true everywhere…”
This line puzzled me, and it seemed such a lofty proclamation to make, but I eventually began to understand it as an invitation to reflect on what I believed to be universally true. Humans share common truths, and what is true is true for everyone. I guess these would be the Big Truths which connect humans and draw us closer together.
Since our world changed back in March, I have seen signs of these Big Truths. On March 30th, religious leaders of all faiths released a joint message to the faithful of Canada entitled Hope, Gratitude, and Solidarity: A Message to Canadians from Religious Leaders in Canada in Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic, which was accompanied by a National Prayer for Canada, co-authored by a Catholic Bishop and Jewish Rabbi. The entire project was initiated by the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Canadian Rabbinic Caucus.
This past week, Rome’s Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue asked our Church to join with people of all faith traditions around the globe on May 14th in observing a day of prayer, fasting, and works of charity. The Council’s communication stated “We shall…be united in living the universal values of prayer, fasting, and acts of charity as a ‘witness to the greatness of faith in God that unites divided hearts and elevates the human soul.’”
It inspires me that in both cases, religious leaders have responded to the COVID-19 pandemic by calling on people of all faith traditions to unite in prayer and in our common truth.
When an unexpected or major event requiring an immediate response occurs in my life, my attention is drawn away from the minutiae of everyday towards “The Big Picture.” Worries and anxieties existing prior to the event might become insignificant, and sometimes ludicrous, and I wondered how I ever could have worried over it. Have you noticed the level of energy we expend focusing on that which separates us or marks us distinct and different from one another, until an event occurs like the one we have been living through in 2020 and we need to shift our priorities and focus on our humanity and shared belief in a Creator? When the conversation shifts from “My path to God is better than your path to God and I am going to tell you all about why,” to “Let us unite in the truth of a common Creator and use that connection to transform humanity,” we are witnessing a striking sign of spiritual growth on planet earth, as well as the Spirit of Truth moving among us.
In Christus Vivit, Pope Francis writes:
A Church always on the defensive, which loses her humility and stops listening to others, which leaves no room for questions, loses her youth and turns into a museum. How, then, will she be able to respond to the dreams of young people? Even if she possesses the truth of the Gospel, this does not mean that she has completely understood it; rather, she is called to keep growing in her grasp of that inexhaustible treasure. Pope Francis’ words make me hopeful for the future of our Church. Despite the strength of our certainties, we are invited to be open to the Spirit of Truth helping us to grow in our faith and also to a living, breathing, and evolving understanding of Christ’s message.
Archdiocese of Moncton, Office of Youth Faith Development