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  • Fr. John Jennings

Borders and Boundaries – God’s Dream of Love and Peace for All

Covid-19 has introduced us to many unfamiliar experiences. Among these is the reality of closed borders. We are isolated into our own little bubbles. Only recently have our borders here in the Atlantic region opened somewhat. The borders of provinces to the west of us remain more limiting. And the national boundary between Canada and the US is even more completely closed.

Borders and boundaries divide us. These divisions seem to characterize the many relationships that are part of our lives. Differences in culture, language, religious beliefs and colour make for great variety in the peoples of the earth. Sometimes they also serve to break the relationships of communities around the globe. Sadly, they also create divides in our shared communities and from one area of the earth and the next.

These divisions are often expressed in national borders and regional groupings. The result is frequently competition and even violence across the divides. We suffer with our inability to live in peace, in mutual care and compassion. In many ways, this is a picture of all our relationships – personal, regional and global.

Boundaries emphasize differences between us and to some degree they limit and restrict us. When our differences are made to loom large, they belie the fact that we share a common humanity and together inhabit the same earth. Despite our differences, we are part of a global community.

God’s dream for our common humanity is that we live in peace, based on compassion and love. John’s Gospel expresses this dream as he relates Jesus’ prayer for his disciples, his friends. He even broadens this prayer to include the whole world. God’s dream, God’s kingdom is extended to all humanity and all creation. John presents the prayer in this way: “I ask not only on behalf of these, but also on behalf of those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one…. That they may become completely one, so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you love me.”(John17:20, 23) This is what we are speaking of when we talk of the Reign/Kingdom of God, a world living entirely in peace, filled with love.

In Matthew’s Gospel we again hear Jesus speaking to his disciples (Matt 18:15-20). At the end of the piece Jesus says to his friends: “Where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.” Christian faith is a communal faith. It feeds our spirit, but it does so in the context or setting of a community of believer and doers. It cannot be separated from the world in which we live and it cannot be lived in a solitary setting.

We human beings are social animals. We are also marked by a need for spirituality that is social AND personal. There is then, a need to nurture both aspects of our lives. To pray and act in community is characteristic of the Christian. We need each other in order to grow socially and spiritually. In our communal faith, living with others in compassion and love we are responding to God’s dream and Jesus’ prayer. In midst of Covid-19, we recognize that “we are in this together” and whether masks, or distancing or universal vaccination, we do it for the others around us. And we do it because God’s dream is that we “may all be one”. In this, we discover what we all long for, PEACE FOUNDED ON LOVE.

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