Pope Francis spent a large part of the third day of his pilgrimage to the Holy Land meeting with Muslim and Jewish leaders, praising the shared commitment to dialogue.
“We are experiencing a fraternal dialogue and exchange which are able to restore us and offer us new strength to confront the common challenges before us,” the Pope told Muhammad Ahmad Hussein, Grand Mufti of Jerusalem on May 26.
He met with the the Muslim leader as well as the Present of the Supreme Muslim Council and others and others Monday morning at the Dome of the Rock.
The Pontiff took the opportunity to reflect on the figure of Abraham, “who lived as a pilgrim in these lands,” and serves as an important figure to the three major religions.
“Muslims, Christians and Jews see in him, albeit in different ways, a father in faith and a great example to be imitated. He became a pilgrim, leaving his own people and his own house in order to embark on that spiritual adventure to which God called him,” he said.
Like Abraham, we are on an “earthly pilgrimage” but “we are not alone. We cross paths with our brothers and sisters of ours...we experience with them a moment of rest which refreshes us.”
Pope Francis noted that Abraham’s attitude should be an example for every person.
A pilgrim “makes himself poor” and “sets out intently toward a great and longed-for destination” living in “hope of a promise received.”
“This was how Abraham lived and this should be our spiritual attitude,” he encouraged.
“We can never think of ourselves (as) self-sufficient, masters of our own lives. We cannot be content with remaining withdrawn, secure in our convictions.”
The Holy Father urged continued efforts for peace, noting that “the pilgrimage of Abraham was also a summons to righteousness.”
Just as God called Abraham to witness to a righteous way of life, “we too wish to witness to God’s working in the world, and so, precisely in this meeting, we hear deep within us his summons to work for peace and justice.”
Pope Francis stressed, “Dear friends, from this holy place I make a heartfelt plea to all people and to all communities who look to Abraham: may we respect and love one another as brothers and sisters!”
“May we learn to understand the sufferings of others! May no one abuse the name of God through violence! May we work together for justice and peace!”
The Pope’s appeal for peace and appreciation of dialogue continued in his later meeting with Jewish Rabbis at the Heichal Shlomo Center in Jerusalem.
“As you know, from the time I was Archbishop of Buenos Aires, I have counted many Jews among my friends,” he told the Chief Rabbis of Israel.
“Together we organized rewarding occasions of encounter and dialogue; with them I also experienced significant moments of sharing on a spiritual level,” he recounted.
Pope Francis referred to the many requests for meetings and improving relations between Jewish leaders and the Popes of the last decades as “one of the fruits of the Second Vatican Council” and “a genuine gift of God.”
He went on to say that the relationships between Christians and Jews must be reflective of the “spiritual bond” between the two.
“Mutual understanding of our spiritual heritage, appreciation for what we have in common and respect in matters on which we disagree: all these can help us to a closer relationship, an intention which we put in God’s hands.”
The Pontiff closed by encouraging continued collaboration.
“Together, we can make a great contribution to the cause of peace; together, we can bear witness, in this rapidly changing world, to the perennial importance of the divine plan of creation; together, we can firmly oppose every form of anti-Semitism and all other forms of discrimination,” he said.