June 19, 2022.

Dear Friends,

Due to the on-going Covid-19 pandemic we will gather together remotely for our Badaliya and Peace Islands Institute faith sharing on Sunday June 19, 2022 from 3:00 pm to 4:30 pm. Please join us in person or in spirit as we encourage Inter-faith relations and pray together for peace and reconciliation in the Middle East, especially in the Holy Land, a slowing of the pandemic and an end to the war in the Ukraine.

In Christian tradition, the close of the Easter Season takes place 50 days after the Resurrection of Christ on the Feast called Pentecost, which was celebrated this year on June 5th. On the following two Sundays, we celebrate key aspects of the faith experience of the earliest followers of Jesus that have endured to our own time. Today is a celebration of one of the seven sacraments in the Catholic tradition that has remained central to the faith experience of Catholic Christians since the foundations of Christianity. The Feast of Corpus Christi, the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, focuses on the transformative experience of receiving Communion in the Church. It reminds us of that moment at the Passover meal when Jesus broke bread and offered it to his disciples as his own body and offered a sip of wine as his own blood. It is directly connected to Christ offering himself, his own body and life, for us, by pouring out his blood on the Cross. Reminded of his death we also rejoice at his Resurrection. In receiving Communion into our own bodies, in union with Christ and one another, the Christ story becomes our own story and we fulfill the one commandment of Jesus, to love one another as Christ, the personification of Divine Love, loves us.

In today's reading, from the Gospel according to Luke (9;11-17), "Jesus was speaking to the crowds about the kingdom of God" and, from five loaves of bread and two fish, feeds everyone, leaving twelve baskets leftover. This reading is an example of the true meaning of the feast of Corpus Christi; Jesus tells the disciples to feed the crowd themselves and then proceeds to show them how. The detail of the twelve wicker baskets leftover is not to be overlooked. From twelve disciples to twelve tribes of Israel and to every nation on earth those "two loaves and two fish" continue to feed others with the Divine Love that we ourselves have received.

In Islam, the Injil refers to the book that was given to Jesus just as the Torah was given to Moses, the Psalms to David and the Qur'an to Muhammad. This "book", according to some Islamic scholars, is not the same as what Christians call the Gospels, in the plural. The heavenly source of these books in Islam is sometimes referred to as the "mother of the books". For Muslims, the Qur'an is the guide to the right path and Muhammad is sometimes experienced as the light. The Qur'an is understood as the final revelation and even as a corrective of the previous received books. Therefore, when we share the traditions that ground our faith experiences, as we do each month, we are respecting our differences, enhancing our experience of our own tradition and profiting from the fruits that each of our traditions has borne in our lives as believers. By crossing over to the other, as Massignon describes, our sharing with one another leads to friendship. By fully recognizing our common humanity and supporting one another we continue to form communities dedicated to enjoying the gift of the diversity of spiritual experiences intended by the Divine Creator of the Universe. The Qur’an states:

“O people, we created you from a single man and a single woman, and made you into races and tribes so that you should get to know one another.” (Qur’an Surah 49:13)

Saint Charles de Foucauld spoke to a Protestant visitor of his vocation living amidst the Touareg tribal community: "I am not here to try to convert the Touareg but to try to understand them ... I am sure that the good God will accept into heaven those who are good and virtuous whether they are Roman Catholic or not. You are a Protestant, Teissière is a nonbeliever, the Touareg are Muslims. I am sure the good God will accept us all."

Today, let us remember the victims of the two recent tragic mass shootings in the United States and their grieving families and friends having to live with the after effects in Buffalo, New York and Uvalde, Texas. Ten senior citizens from the African American community, two dedicated teachers and nineteen elementary school children from a small Latino town, beloved of their families and friends, must not be forgotten. Our hearts are broken once again at the failure of our elected officials to address the gun violence and racial and ethnic hatred that so often fuels it.

As we enter into our two-month summer break may we maintain our friendships, welcome all refugees and asylum seekers from every religion and nation, open our hearts to those who mourn and become peace makers and healers in our world.

Have a healthy and renewing summer,
Peace to you,

Reference: Buck. Dialogues with Saints and Mystics: In the Spirit of Louis Massignon, chapter Two: "The Call of the Divine: Louis Massignon and Charles de Foucauld." KNP Publications, London, NY 2002. Quotation: p. 80.

See www.dcbuck.com for all past letters to the Badaliya and Peace Islands Institute