Listen to the whisper of God

By Father John Walsh on February 21, 2016

There is a current in history that is pushing us towards reconciliation and peace. Listen to the whisper of God everywhere. At Vatican II the whisper of God could be heard in the document Nostra Aetate when fundamental questions about our human existence were posed. Men expect from the various religions answers to the unsolved riddles of the human condition, which today, even as in former times, deeply stir the hearts of men: What is man? What is the meaning, the aim of our life? What is moral good, what is sin? Whence suffering and what purpose does it serve? Which is the road to true happiness?

In the decades since, a variety of declarations have circulated reinforcing the need for dialogue between Christians and Jews. Then, on December 10th 2015 the Pontifical Commission for Religious Relations released a document entitled, “The Gifts And The Calling Of God Are Irrevocable (Rom 11:29) — — A Reflection On Theological Questions Pertaining To Catholic-Jewish Relations On The Occasion Of The 50th Anniversary of Nostra Aetate.” How, then, does man come to be? Man comes to be through dialogue and develops consciousness through conversation with others, in a mutual exchange. The whisper of God was leading Jews and Christians to a deeper theological dialogue. The goals of dialogue are outlined at the end of the document Gifts and Calling.

The first goal of dialogue is to reach a profound knowledge of each other whereby the dialogue partners become the recipients of gifts. The second goal consists in joint engagement throughout the world for justice, peace, conservation of creation, and reconciliation. A third important goal of Jewish–Catholic dialogue is to combat all manifestations of racial discrimination against Jews and all forms of anti-Semitism. Karen Armstrong writes: “It is not a question of discovering your belief in “God” first and then living a compassionate life. The practice of disciplined sympathy would itself yield intimations of transcendence.”

The whisper of God that is leading to a theological dialogue becomes intimations of transcendence, a disclosure of the transcendent plan of God. The Gifts And The Calling Are Irrevocable (Rom 11:29) offers a new direction and a new conversation on several theological topics as it stresses the unique status of the relationship of Catholics and Jews within the wider gambit of inter-religious dialogue, and further discusses theological questions, such as the relevance of revelation, the relationship between the Old and the New Covenant, the relationship between the universality of salvation in Jesus Christ and the affirmation that the covenant of God with Israel has never been revoked, and the Church’s mandate to evangelize in relation to Judaism.

Sixteen centuries of discord are reconciled with the advent of dialogue. Then, in January, 2016, Francis, the Bishop of Rome and Patriarch Kirill of the Russian Orthodox Church, at the airport in Cuba, sign a declaration in which the key points were: 1) An acknowledgement that we have been divided by wounds caused by old and recent conflicts, by differences inherited from our ancestors; 2) a deep concern for “Christians [who] are victims of persecution;” 3) a plea for greater inter-religious dialogue; 4) worry about secular hostility to religion; 5) the defense of immigrants and refugees; a strong call for preserving the “natural family” and, finally, 6) an invitation to prudence, social solidarity and action aimed at constructing peace in Ukraine.

Since, 1054, the division of the Christian Church is in the process of reconciliation. Hans Küng once said, “No peace among the nations without peace among the religions.” The whisper of God is everywhere and all religions can articulate it in a dialogue in which we are all responsible for each other in the world. 


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