Commonality in a Divided World

This year, Easter, Ramadan and Passover all overlap. It happens about three times every century and many of us won’t see it again.

It’s interesting to think about what our religions have in common. Passover celebrates the deliverance from slavery and fresh hope for the Israelites, Ramadan preaches spiritual regeneration and the overcoming of earthly desires, and Easter the resurrection, symbolising hope over suffering and loss.

With religion so often used as a reason for division and conflict, it’s easy to forget how interconnected our traditions are. The sacrifices of Lent have parallels with Ramadan. Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem to celebrate Passover when he was arrested, mocked and then crucified, and the Prophet Muhammad preached tolerance for all other religions and is believed to have reached out by taking a Jewish wife from the Banu Nadir tribe.

This is a time of great spirituality for many and the opportunity to seek the best in people. The Good Friday Agreement was settled at this time of year and brought to an end years of suffering and conflict in Northern Ireland. Sadly, as I write this, political leaders in the province have forgotten how important that agreement is, resulting in warnings of new terrorist threats. Let’s hope the Easter message prevails.

On a more optimistic note, a Saudi and Omani delegation are just now in Yemen trying to negotiate an end to a war which has cost thousands of innocent lives.

There is much turmoil in our world and need for hope.

In Ukraine, Putin’s war continues to wreak untold suffering for the Ukrainian people and young Russian conscripts who shouldn’t be part of it.

In the Holy Land itself, peace seems as far away as ever and we’ve witnessed a new outbreak of violence taking lives on both sides.

It’s easy to be despondent but Easter, like Passover and Ramadan, is about hope. I’ve been enjoying the Easter break and it’s made me think about our Abrahamic family. We have more in common than that which divides us. The teachings of the great religions are about peace, sacrifice and hope.

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