Thought for the week: Father Michael Teader

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It seems from listening to the news and reading our newspapers that there is today even more faith divisions in our world than ones we see in the drama of Wolf Hall.

There we see the pain caused by misunderstandings between Thomas Cromwell and Thomas More – great men of faith but bitterly opposed in their practice of it.

The extremists of the Muslim world, seem intent on stamping out anything that does not conform to its ideology.

The more moderate among us: Protestant, Catholic, Jewish or Muslim strive to worship God whilst respecting our different ways.

Within the prison I work very peacefully with Ahmed, the Imam, with whom I pray.

I am happy to work closely with my Christian brothers and sisters even though we are aware of our differences.

I am reminded of a story which illustrates this.

As a chaplaincy team, we can imagine ourselves digging a well together. When we reach the bottom we might ask: ‘What will we find - Muslim water, Protestant or Catholic water?’

Hopefully we will say: ‘Come on! We have spent all this time walking together, what a question to ask?’

We know that we will find God’s water; water to quench the thirst of those who thirst for peace, for justice and for the love and forgiveness of God.

The thirst for unity among all who believe in God, whatever His name is, is not the path of Proselytism within only one tradition demanding absolute truth, demanding conversion to its side.

Rather it lies in digging a well together, as the chaplaincy team does in the prison, each of us within our own beliefs and traditions, converting more deeply into the mystery of God and all that he asks of us.

Eventually unity among the churches and world faiths will not come about by everyone converting to one denomination or one faith.

No religion is absolute. Only God is absolute.

Knowing this should make us less smug in the practice of our own religion, more respectful of other denominations and other faiths, digging a well together – reaching for the water of eternal life.

As we move more deeply into the mystery of God we will draw closer to each other.