Pope Francis on Religious Tolerance: Do Good. We Will Meet One Another There

Pope_Francis_in_March_2013I frequently drive past a church – Baptist, I think – that has a sign board out front, the kind where they can change up the messages. Most churches around here have welcoming messages, that say things like, “Join us for worship Sundays at 10!” or “VBS starts in June! Sign up today!” But this particular church uses the sign as a pulpit instead. There are usually quotes up there and the quotes are usually, well, pretty aggressive.

Right now, there’s a line from Hebrews 10:11. It says, “And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins.” That’s pretty typical fare for this church. Scripture quotes that drive home the point that no matter how much good you do, it’s not going to save you unless you are also a Christian. As a non-Christian, I always feel pretty insulted by the messages because they seem to be saying to me that my life and my ways of helping in the world have no value because I don’t believe in the divinity of Jesus.

I wonder what the pastor of that church makes of the homily given by Pope Francis this week where he opened the door to acceptance of all people, regardless of faith, who share in the common pursuit of doing good. The new Pope offered this statement:

“They complain … [because they say] if he is not one of us, he cannot do good. If he is not of our party, he cannot do good. And Jesus corrects them: ‘Do not hinder him, he says, let him do good.’ The disciples … were a little intolerant, closed off by the idea of ​​possessing the truth, convinced that those who do not have the truth, cannot do good. This was wrong . . . Jesus broadens the horizon. … The root of this possibility of doing good – that we all have – is in creation.”

Pope Francis went further in his sermon to say:

“The Lord created us in His image and likeness, and we are the image of the Lord, and He does good and all of us have this commandment at heart: do good and do not do evil. All of us. ‘But, Father, this is not Catholic! He cannot do good.’ Yes, he can… The Lord has redeemed all of us, all of us, with the Blood of Christ: all of us, not just Catholics. Everyone! ‘Father, the atheists?’ Even the atheists. Everyone! … We must meet one another doing good. ‘But I don’t believe, Father, I am an atheist!’ But do good: we will meet one another there.”

But do good: we will meet one another there.

Yes. Oh yes. Those words bring tears to my eyes. They sound like Gandhi to me, like Martin Luther King, Jr., like Sojourner Truth. They sound like words meant to unite us all. Those words could start tear down walls among faiths, or between the faithful and the faithless. Those words call us all to do good that we might meet our fellow man there.

Life is not a team sport and we don’t need to declare our allegiances. It doesn’t need to be about what church we attend, what political party we favor, what passport we carry. It can be about doing good and reaching out to others who do good. It can be about meeting one another in the places we do good and joining forces to do even more good. Pope Francis sees this and is able to articulate is so simply, so well. I hope other religious and secular leaders hear the truth in his words and follow suit.

I will continue trying to do good in my life, in my fumbling, all-too-human way. Will you meet me there?

Rebekah Kuschmider is a DC area mom with an over-developed sense of irreverence, socialist tendencies, a cable news addiction, and a blog. Rebekah has an undergraduate degree in theatre and Master’s in Arts Policy and Administration and a decade of experience managing arts organizations and advocating in the public health sector.  Rebekah also blogs about her life, her thoughts, and her opinions at StayAtHomePundit.com. She was voted one of the Top 25 Political Mom Blogs at Circle of Moms. Her work has also been seen at Salon.com, Redbook online, and the Huffington Post.

Image via Wikimedia Commons/Creative Commons License

  • This is a fantastic article, and it brought tears to my eyes.

  • I thought I could read this quickly and move on this morning, but you have stopped me in my tracks with this beautiful piece. I had read only a few lines of the Pope’s sermon, and now I want to post it everywhere in your honor. I too have tears in my eyes. This new Pope is showing some real potential, wouldn’t you say?

    • Do Good. We Will Meet Each Other – This is so well written and speaks my mind in so many ways. In my years as an organizer I have worked hundreds of different groups trying to do good for their fellow man and I have seen their chosen faith as a divide between them. Now I see the unity among them and the power of that unity is strong enough to touch the face of God.

      Thank you! Pope Francis

      Mary

  • Kathy

    I agree with this sermon. I do accept the Lord Jesus Christ in my life but I don’t accept the churches in my life. They are extremely judgmental and that is NOT a part of my life. It’s about time there is a Pope Francis in the house. Hopefully he can educate people to the very kind and loving idea that you are not judged for not going to church. Just be kind and do onto others as you would want them to do for you.

  • Chuckmo

    Amazing to hear something like this coming from a pope. I am pleasantly surprised.

  • Tina

    I have considered myself a “respectful atheist” (a term I made up for myself) for several years now. I was raised a Catholic, I have many Catholic friends and family members, and while I see the flaws in the church I also see people I love who believe in it. I am happy to see a pope like Francis who seems to embody “don’t sweat the small stuff.”

    That quote. “Do good, we will meet one another there.” It makes me want to cry, and hope, and believe that the world can be a better place. Go Pope Francis. This atheist is with you.

  • Beverly Uhlmer

    The gift of salvation that Jesus offers is for all of us. However, we have to accept the gift. A check written to you does no good unless you cash it. The offer of salvation is for everyone, but does no good, in the eternal sense, until it is taken for yourself. We all want a “feel good” religion but that is not what the Bible teaches. Read it front to back to determine the entire message.

  • Jen Feinberg

    Sometimes when you write I feel like we are soul sisters. I frequently tell my children, whether we believe in a God or not, if we live well, do good, and are kind to others, that’s what matters. In the end if there is a God and heaven, we will get there by our actions.I have been so impressed with Pope Francis in his kind, loving open approach to all. Those are the actions and words of a hero.

    • Beverly Uhlmer

      Jen, The Bible says, “there is no one who does good and does not sin.” Jesus led a completely sinless life, the only human being to do so, and thus was able to be the sacrifice for our sin (inborn) and our sins (the acts we commit). If you rely on your own goodness how will you know if you are good enough to warrant eternal life with a God who cannot allow ANY sinfulness in Heaven? What do you consider “good”? Is it good in God’s eyes or just in yours, clouded as they are by living in a sinful world? I encourage you to read the Bible to understand God’s view about you (he loves you with an everlasting love) but his view about your soul (no one but Jesus can pass this test). Christianity is not about your feelings, it is about knowing Truth.
      I agree that Pope Francis is kind, loving and accepting, just as God is. But God is also VERY clear that no one enters Heaven based on their actions but on their faith in the sacrifice of the sinless offering of God’s son. The entire Bible reflects this Truth, beginning with the promise to God’s first created humans after they disobeyed and were sent from the Garden. Had they been allowed to stay in the perfect garden and eaten from the Tree of Life, humans would be doomed to eternal life in this sinful world rather than being freed of it through the death of the mortal body to the eternal life with God through Jesus.

      • Jen Feinberg

        Literal interpretation of the bible is frought with inconsistency, mixed messages and historical and scientific inaccuracies. Not even all Christian faiths believe in the same lessons and interpretations of the bible. You have suggested my own personal definition of “good” is clouded by a sinful world. I would suggest that if we are all sinners, then who, or what religion, truly can interpret the bible without being clouded by the sinners around them? What religious group has it right?

        I left organized religion because I believe that the many organized religions are exclusionary and elitist in their belief that their own faith is the “true” following of God. In being exclusionary, elitist, condescending, and critical of those who do not hold their belief they are being un-godly.

        I live and guide my family with a humanistic approach, live responsibly, thinking rationally about right and wrong, considering the consequences of our actions and trying to do the right thing. Do not be critical but respectful of others views and belief systems, and be open minded. Be able to be consistent and concise about my own belief system, yet acknowledge and understand that there are others with very different views.

        In the end, I believe we are all more alike than we are different and we should strive to find peace and enjoyment through common ground instead of focusing on our differences.

      • Antoinette

        This is the Truth…

  • Do they depopify? Can the vatican depopify because they don’t like what he says, that Jesus loves us all?

    • Beverly Uhlmer

      Of course Jesus loves all of us. The question is, “does each of us love Jesus”?

  • Antoinette

    The truth is there’s a hell, and Jesus loves us enough that He died so you wouldn’t go there, He loves us but this pope loves no one because He won’t tell them the truth, to turn to Christ so your sins can be forgiven. Only Jesus is the Way the Truth and the Life, only Jesus rose from the dead and conquered death for us so we can rise again and live eternally with Him, not Buddha or Ghandi or Mohammed are still in their graves. Don’t be fooled the new testament is clear on what the gospel is and what salvation is, Jesus is our Savior you must accept Him as your Lord to get to heaven, it says you must be born again by the Spirit and water to get to heaven. Don’t be fooled, love tells the Truth not lead millions of unsuspecting people to hell. Read the new testament and you will find the Truth. I also when I got baptised as an adult…like we are commanded to do..that night, the Lord Jesus came to me, I’m currently writing a book and telling my story on tv..He came to me and He revealed the Truth to me and He not only spoke to me about hell but showed me the entrance. He showed me many things…I didn’t believe in hell at this time and I barely believed in HIM. He showed me many things and told me the Truth in the bible which I didn’t believe, He showed me angels, demons and how they lie and take people to hell. I beg you please for those of you that will listen to me, Holy Spirit…reveal the truth to these people, God save these people and show them what you showed me please. Read the new testament at least and believe the words of Christ Himself and not this anti Christ that is leading millions to their destruction.

  • Antoinette

    If a y of you is interested n my story or wants to be pointed to the right direction please feel free to message me…

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