“ O almighty and merciful God, Lord of the universe and of history. All that You have created is good and your compassion for the mistakes of mankind knows no limits. We come to You today to ask You to keep in peace the world and its people, to keep far away from it the devastating wave of terrorism, to restore friendship and instill in the hearts of your creatures the gift of trust and of readiness to forgive.”—Pope Francis
Pope Francis never hesitates to turn the light of truth inward as well as outward. The Gospel, especially as John tells it, reminds us that Jesus suffered as much at the hands of those who shared his religious faith as he did at the hands of outsiders. Persecution happens because of misguided power, anger at perceived injustice, fear of those who are not like us, who don’t share our beliefs and sometimes even our opinions. What begins as a disagreement over ideas can be magnified and escalated into rejection, ostracism, violence, and even death. And it can—and does—happen among Catholics of different philosophies, between Catholics and other Christians, between Christians and those of other faiths. In today’s Gospel the Pharisees sneer at Nicodemus when they ask if he, too, is from Galilee, a rural region that the residents of Jerusalem considered backward and inferior. We do this even today. We think we know how people will behave based on what part of the country they’re from. We divide our own cities and towns into good areas and bad areas. We absorb the prejudices of lifelong citizens even when we’re new to an area. Often we wouldn’t think of going to another part of town because of what we think we know about it, often based only on what we hear from others. Spend some time today learning about another faith, another culture, another set of beliefs. Set aside as much as is humanly possible the division of us and them, me and other. Look at the world from someone else’s perspective.
— from the book The Hope of Lent: Daily Reflections from Pope Francis
by Diane M. Houdek