Saturday, June 28, 2014

Bridge Building in a Time of Great Divisions

Bridge Building

There’s a little German poem, “Die Menschen bauen /  zu viele Mauern / und zu wenig Bruecken.” Translated it means, “People build too many walls, and too few bridges.” These days people are bitterly divided by so many things: politics, race, religion, social class, place of residence, and so on. The divisions are heartbreaking and seem impossible to overcome. But you probably know a few people or institutions that bridge these walls. We need to follow their examples and look for every opportunity to find common ground with those who are different from us. Jesus himself demonstrated that approach many times in his life, once with the Samaritan woman at the well, and at the end of his life when he blessed the so-called “Good Thief.” A first step is to look for the goodness in all people and find programs and people that are bridging these walls.

One place many St. Mary’s [Painesville, Ohio] parishioners have found common ground is in our Karpos Ministry to the homeless and hungry. This ministry is now in its 5th year and feeds more than 100 people every Wednesday and Thursday evening. The volunteers are not all St. Mary parishioners. Some of the key volunteers are not Catholics. The entire political spectrum is represented, and there is ethnic and racial diversity among volunteers. Ages range from school children supervised by their parents to a man in his mid 70s, who comes from a neighboring parish. The Karpos volunteers have a common mission and their commonalities are much more compelling than their differences. In the end, the Karpos volunteers love one another and show the Love of the Lord to the homeless and hungry that they serve. Living out the Works of Mercy has helped Karpos build bridges, to each other, and to the poor among us. Examples like Karpos are all around and show us a way toward bridging the terrible and dangerous walls found in our world.

[From time to time I'll try to write about people and institutions bridging the great divides in our world.]

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