Bridges and walls, unity in diversity

We are meant to love everyone, even including our enemies. Christ said so. He even offered forgiveness to those who crucified him. And that’s simply because, irrespective of how we are individually and among each other, we are all brothers and sisters, children of God who loves us all the way, without counting the cost, as Pope Francis’ encyclical, “Fratelli tutti” (All brothers), reminds us strongly.

That is why we have to do all so that we can show and live that love in reality, in actual time, and not just in good intentions and nice words, which we are notorious in. For this we have to be open and friendly with everyone, caring and eager to help in any way we can with everyone. For this, of course, we have to be willing to make sacrifices, because definitely, it will require of us a lot of effort, discipline, and self-denial.

In that papal encyclical, we are encouraged to always be like the Good Samaritan with everyone, especially with those in great difficulty, like the robbery victim in that gospel parable. (cfr. Lk 10,25-37) We should try our best to avoid being the other characters in that parable who avoided helping the miserable victim by the roadside.

Of course, we all know that we want to be a Good Samaritan with everybody, though we also know that there are times—in fact, many times—that we fail to be so for a number of reasons, both valid and invalid. We also know that we don’t want to be those other characters in the parable, though we can’t help but sometimes and even many times, we fall to be like them, again for a number of reasons, both valid and not.

It cannot be denied that for us to become true and genuine brothers and sisters to each other, with a love that channels the universal love of God in us, a long, tortuous process is involved.

We should just help one another in developing such a spirit of fraternity and social friendship that the encyclical is espousing. It will take time and a lot of effort and sacrifice, and so we should just be patient with one another without letting up in our effort.

Just the same, we should not be too idealistic as to think that there will come a time in this world when everything will be in perfect harmony. Such a state of affairs will only happen in heaven.

While here on earth, we will always have to contend with many imperfections. In fact, we are told that some of the signs that the end of the world is coming are the persecutions and growing conflicts among ourselves, even involving those close to us. (cfr Lk 21,7-12)

Yes, we want to practice universal charity, to build an open world without borders, to be welcoming, protective, promoting and integrating migrants as the encyclical strongly recommends, but we cannot help but be concerned about certain requirements of screening, selection and possible rejection.

We cannot be naïve in this life that is always a mixture of good and evil. And for all the inclusivity of charity that we want to practice, the exclusivity of truth and the requirements of justice cannot be neglected.

We can build bridges, but we also need walls. And our unity of love is always respectful of the diversity among us.*

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