Diversity...we hear so much about it these days. The large company that I work for requires all of its employees to attend annual diversity training in an effort to help us understand those who are different from us in any way. It’s a good thing!
Yesterday, my daughter Mary was honored with an award for academic achievement. I had never heard of this award before. It was given by the Public Schools to Parochial School students. The award dinner was held at a Lutheran School. It was attended by hundreds of families. The crowd was diverse. Many races, cultures, and faiths were represented. We were black, white, Hispanic, and Asian. We were Catholic, Baptist, Lutheran, Jewish and Muslim. Everyone got along very peacefully as we rejoiced together in the achievements of our children.
It was hard not to notice the Jewish and Muslim families, because their faiths require them to dress in a way that shows their faith to the world. I'm impressed by that. Can anyone tell that I am Catholic by the way I dress? Even more impressive was the fact that although a delicious chicken dinner was served, the Jewish family who was sitting at our table, brought their own Kosher food to eat. They did not seem to be sad or embarrassed to bring their own food. Instead, I think they were proud to witness to their faith, even and especially, in a public gathering.
During the dinner, an 8th grade boy got up to sing a few songs. He had a beautiful voice and was very brave to share it with everyone at the dinner. Braver still, was the fact that the songs he sang were Christian songs about how much he loves Jesus and how Jesus guides his life. Not many 8th graders that I know would be willing to publicly witness to their faith in Jesus. Someone walked over to the Jewish family and asked them if they were offended by the songs. "Not at all!” the father replied. "That boy has talent!"
I was so proud to be a part of that awards program with that wonderful diverse group. So often today, we seem to fear our differences instead of embracing them. Not too long ago, a public high school in our community held their commencement exercises at a large Christian Church. People complained and said that the church should cover the Cross so non-Christians wouldn't be offended. Wouldn't it have been wonderful if those non-Christians would have held the attitude of that Jewish father? Wouldn't it have been nice if they could have appreciated the large space that was open to them, and accepted the fact that the Christian community was generous to share their building, instead of asking them to hide who they are? The Christians at that church should be able to witness to their faith with all those who entered the building regardless of what others might believe.
I don't think that God really cares about different religions. I think that God just wants everyone to come to Him, to love Him. For me, I couldn't think of a better way to come to God than through my Catholic faith. I love its rich traditions and values. I love and embrace everything about it. But maybe, the Jewish or the Muslim person next to me feels the same way about their faith. I believe that God looks into everyone's heart, sees the love and commitment to Him that lives in our hearts, and is pleased, regardless of our faith traditions. After all, there is only One God, and we are all his children!