By Most Rev. Richard W. Smith, Archbishop of Edmonton


This picture shows one of the panels on the holy door at St. Peter's Basilica in Rome. I have always loved it, and it speaks beautifully of the Good Shepherd reaching out to save the lost. That's the reason for hope.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Borders

I've spent the last few days crossing multiple borders, having come to the Holy Land for the annual gathering called the Holy Land Coordination. (Since this first began, the CCCB has sent its President as representative to this conference, which gathers Bishops from a number of episcopal assemblies to manifest solidarity with the Christian community in the Holy Land.)

The first border to cross was that of Israel. Then, once inside this country I had to cross a number of internal frontiers which mark the boundaries of the West Bank. Our group crossed the Allenby Bridge to enter Jordan, where we met with local parishioners. Many of them are working on behalf of Caritas Jordan with refugees, who have escaped across the border of Syria to flee the violence there.

To my mind, these geographical boundaries are both real and symbolic. They represent the far deeper and more serious borders that separate the people here from one another: the borders of fear, hatred, violence and suspicion. The geographical boundaries and military checkpoints are not easy to cross and often take a lot of time. The boundaries dividing the heart, however, seem impossible to transcend.

Many border crossings here took place on the weekend when the Church celebrated the feast of the Epiphany. On this solemnity we honour Jesus Christ as saviour, as light and hope, for all nations. We adore him as the one in whom God's universal saving will is both manifest and accomplished. In other words, in Jesus Christ we see that the love and mercy of God transcend any and all borders of human making, whether they be of time, place, language, ethnicity or culture. As Saint Paul would later write, in his very person Jesus has broken down the wall of hostility that has separated Jew from Gentile and made them one.

Herein lies real hope when there would appear to be none. Jesus is our hope. As we come up against physical frontiers, he invites us to consider any boundaries within our hearts that keep us from loving one another as he has commanded us to do. By his light, may he reveal to us those boundaries so that, by his mercy, he will dissolve them and lead us to one another.