Homily – Pentecost Weekend

 

Friends, as I said in the bulletin this week; Pentecost is our clarion call to walk the talk of Christianity—Pentecost is about action, about moving out of our comfort zones, not looking to anyone else for guidance, but our brother Jesus, who truly showed us the way to go, even to the cross. Now, you might be wondering, why would I want to do that, especially the cross part? And, I can only answer, because that was what you signed on for on your confirmation day!

That day was not just about getting a new set of clothes, having a party with family and friends, receiving gifts, but about making a conscious effort to live more from our hearts, than our heads.  The heart will lead us out of our comfort zones, whereas the head, alone, will never do that. If our confirmation day was the beginning of us as individuals, living more from the heart, then, that was something worth celebrating! And, it is never too late to start!

The older liturgy of confirmation used to include the ritual of a “slap on the face” which was meant to indicate that we must be strong in our faith because we will be tempted in many ways to do less than our best.  In present day, this ritual is no longer used for obvious reasons, but a ritual that might be used could be a gentle shake to perhaps wake us to the realization that being a grown-up follower of Jesus means that we might be called upon at times to do or say the right thing whether we do it with others or stand alone.  We should not be followers of the crowd, so as to be safe, but stand for more.

Our Scriptures today let us know that our forebears in the faith experienced something life-changing on that first Pentecost—tongues of fire, violent, rushing wind, speaking in other tongues.  Scripture goes on to say that barriers of language were broken—people could now understand each other where before they could not.  What a wonderful thing—something our world so needs today—to be able to really listen and hear the concerns on another’s heart—to basically understand.

In a very simple example this comes home to me. Our little grandson, Elliot speaks very well and he speaks often and continuously throughout the day when I am with him.  Because, as is normal for someone his age, certain letters are still hard to say—r’s and l’s for example. When these letters are part of words he wants me to hear and I don’t understand, he and I get frustrated—“No gramma, I mean…and he says it again and still I don’t know what he means.  Because I love him, I keep listening and finally, I get what he is trying to say!

Peace in the world, the peace that Jesus brings to us is all about that—our ability to keep listening, checking it out with our “supposed” adversary to see if that is what is meant and then trying to understand what the meaning is—not just for myself, but for the other.

When I look around the world and see the troubles people face, one can usually break it down to the basics of life—people need food, water, clothing, shelter and safety.  This is something we all should understand and be aware of when people are living without necessities and then, ask what part perhaps we as individuals are doing to either make life better for others, or make it worse.

It has been a known fact for many years that the developed world far surpasses the developing world in the amount of resources it uses.  This fact is one that the serious Christian needs to wrestle with.  No one of us can do all that is needed in our world, but we have to at least try.

Here at All Are One, we have many opportunities to share our surplus—through Home Delivered Meals in February of each year, our monthly food collections of non-perishable items, Catholic Worker monthly meals and now, as a Sanctuary Support Community—we will have added ways to extend love and understanding in the future.  The money you all share so generously in the collection basket, except for some office supplies, yearly licenses, insurance and some professional development for the pastor, goes back to our local community, country and world at a rate of 75% for social justice activities and outreach.  We are very fortunate to be in a symbiotic relationship with the Lutheran Campus Center which allows us to share space and work and make our outreach possible.

So friends, on this Pentecost weekend, when we remember the Spirit coming to each of us to strengthen us to move out of our comfort zones, reflecting on Paul’s words to the Corinthians is of merit.   He speaks in a somewhat theological way when he says, “We cannot be under the influence of the Spirit and curse Jesus.”  Additionally, we cannot claim that Jesus reigns over all except under the influence of the Spirit.”

In other words; when we do not assist those in our lives/our world who need assistance, that is, in effect, “cursing Jesus.”  Likewise, we can’t claim that Jesus rules in our lives unless we are striving each day to be our best selves—Jesus always wants us to see the bigger picture—to truly walk the talk! And some days we aren’t going to feel up to the task but we must remember Jesus’ words after all the suffering, the death and the rising—“peace be with you” and we must believe that he means this gift to be ours!  Amen? Amen!

Homily – Ascension/7th Sunday of Easter

 

My friends, today is Mothers’ Day and I thought it a good place to begin this homily after I worked for most of a morning to take some thoughts from three years ago and apply them to today.  Sometimes, it is just best to start over!

When I think of what a true mother is; open-hearted, self-giving, compassionate, understanding and willing to do whatever it takes to see that her child is well-cared for; I think about the loving way that our good God moved into humanity to say in no uncertain terms that, “I love you, more than I can say.”  God did this of course in Jesus.

Many of us have had such mothers in our lives, a gift to be truly grateful for, while others have found the “mothering” we all need in different ways and that too is a gift!” Some of us have physically given birth and others have “birthed life” into others in emotional and spiritual ways—all, wonderful gifts to be grateful for today.

On a day such as this that calls us to remember our physical, emotional and spiritual mothers, it might be good for each of us to take stock of all these people in our lives and say, “thank you” today, whether they are with us or not.

This past week our Church calendar remembered that moment in time when Jesus ceased to be present in the physical form that his first followers came to know and love.  How this happened, we can’t actually say—people have tried through time to explain it, but the “how” is not the most important thing to remember about Ascension Thursday.  Rather, we must always remember “what” our brother Jesus said before he physically left—that he would not leave us alone, the apostles, the disciples, or us.

Next Sunday, we will rejoice in the knowledge of this fact as we celebrate Pentecost—the coming of Jesus’ Spirit into our lives—the new way that he would always be with us.  In the meantime, this Sunday calls our attention to the fact that we have arrived at the 7th and final Sunday of Easter, a season that has called us once again to the journey of the entire Church Year.  We have lived it reflectively from Advent through this Easter Season.  Advent prepared us to remember once again Jesus’ birth, then on through the quiet years of his youth when Scriptures tell us he “grew in wisdom and grace” and on through to his maturity when at one wonderful point in his adult life, he was able to proclaim in his hometown of Nazareth the Good News that captives, prisoners of all kinds—the poor and the lonely were now free—that their time of imprisonment was over!

Our journey through the Church Year to now has called us to remember that because Jesus fought for the rights and equality of all, challenging those with a lust for power, that these same ones would take his life, as a result, on a Friday that would forever after be called, good.  Jesus’ life didn’t end there, we know, but continued beyond the grave to a new life that we will all experience one day.

So much of this, my friends, is clearly mystery to us—that we can’t completely wrap our minds around, and we would do better to simply lay upon our hearts, knowing that one day, as Paul says, “We will see clearly.”

Our life in faith is like this—it always calls us to look deeper than what appears on the surface.  If we just take the simple words of Jesus that “he will not leave us,” we know that he must have a deeper meaning because Ascension Thursday remembers the fact that Jesus did physically leave those who loved him in his earthly life. We all,  in our lives experience the “leaving” of those that we love, through illness, death, disagreement and the list continues. We all experience times when we wonder where God is. Knowing the loneliness of the feeling that God is not present to us; we might have to look further and deeper to where God might be.

The next step might be to ask as John seems to be in today’s Gospel—when did you do the loving thing—the gesture that was needed in a broken world? When did you give a share of your wealth so that others could have the basics of life? When did you give comfort to a sad, lonely, forgotten person? When did you speak the word of truth that was needed to make a situation better?

John says, when you do any of these things, you make Jesus present to our world again and again and again! The deeper idea that our brother Jesus wants us to get through his entire earthly life is that as his followers, it matters a great deal how we choose to live our lives.

Our life in Christ, the resurrected Jesus will only be as good as we are willing to make it! That is truly what it is all about! So if there are those who are suffering in any way in our world, it is because good people are not seeing, are not doing their part to make things better—to make Jesus present.

Jesus is present in each of us if we allow him to be there and the only “Jesus” some people may see and experience may be through us! I can’t tell you the times that I heard, in my ministry as a chaplain, patients say that they don’t go to church anymore because they see so many hypocrites there every week who go out afterward and act contrary to what they [hopefully] heard while in church.  So, my friends, people are watching and expecting that we walk the talk.  No one ever said that this would be easy—“this Christianity stuff” and the tenets of other faith backgrounds, but it seems that the rewards that come from striving to follow Jesus and other holy models are worth it—goodness is really reciprocal and it is what this world needs now more than ever!

So, my friends, Happy Mothers’ Day to any who have ever mothered in any way, be you female or male.  And happy last week of Easter that is really, for the Christian, every day! Amen? Amen!

Homily – 6th Sunday of Easter

This week I celebrated my 68th birthday.  I can remember when I turned 60 thinking, oh my God; I am getting so old! Those of you out there who are older consoled me with the fact that, “I’m just a kid!” and should not worry.  Now, at 68, the number isn’t so much my worry, as, what I am doing with all these years—whether I am faithful to the call, to the trust and love that God has first, given me.

I have shared with some of you in conversation that as I continue to age, the realization has come to me that I have lived the greatest portion of my life now and so, I am cognizant of the fact that I want to make the best of whatever years I have left. Like, for example, I don’t want to be part of groups anymore that are afraid to change, that aren’t open-minded and because those in power just want things to remain the same, even when it isn’t working; I am simply spinning my wheels when I could be doing something more productive for myself and others.

The chosen readings of the Church for this Sunday are all about love as is often the case in the Easter Season—some are very upfront about proclaiming this message of love, first from God and then the admonition that we do the same, as in the First Letter from John in today’s second reading.

The first reading shows this “love message” more obliquely where Peter asks in Acts, “What can stop these people who have received the Holy Spirit?” The answer of course is, “a lack of love.” Peter and the others struggled with the fact of whether Jesus intended that the Gentiles were to be baptized and confirmed by the Spirit in the faith.  We only have to recall Jesus’ words in the 14th chapter of John, “You shall do even greater things than I” to know what Jesus intended—that his message to reach out to others was always, always  part of the plan.

It is this assurance, that the “love message” was intended for all that gives me such joy in my involvement with the Winona Interfaith Council.  I witness such rich theological messages coming from all of the faith backgrounds represented under our umbrella, Christian, Quaker, Unitarian, Buddhist, Islam, Jewish and Baha’i—each showing a different aspect of God’s face and involvement with our world and I know deep within the rightness that we all are united to speak in our community with one voice—we are loved by God and must return the love by respecting each other’s own particular ways of finding and going to God.

It is out of this rich bringing together that many churches within the Winona Interfaith Council have banded together once again to give voice to the idea of “sanctuary” for the undocumented within our community. You are all aware that All Are One has become a Sanctuary Support Community, meaning that we will give spiritual, material/financial and emotional support to the Church that will hopefully say, “yes” to becoming the Sanctuary Church within our community—the Church that will actually house the individuals needing support in their process to stave off, deportation.  This past week, The Quakers have joined us in announcing that their group has voted to become a Sanctuary Support Community too!

The “love message” continues in today’s gospel where Jesus tells his first followers, “To live on in his love” and goes on to say and to model, how, in fact, that is done.  Jesus does not consider himself to be better than those who follow him and to prove it, he calls them, “friends.”

One doesn’t call another “friend” when they are into power and control.  That is why I call you all, “friends.”  Hopefully, you notice the other ways that I try to show that we are one—I sit with you for the readings, rather than take a seat apart, giving myself honor above that of the Scriptures being read for us all. At all Roman Catholic women priest liturgies, you will notice that the pastor receives communion after serving it to the people, a sign that we are about “service”— not honor for ourselves.

This ministry of almost 10 years, this next Thursday, the 10th of May, has always been about what we do here together, as equals.  This is reflected in the invitation that I repeat at the beginning of our Eucharistic Prayer when we have new people among us, reminding all present that by praying the beautiful words of consecration together, we do make Jesus present!  We must remember that we are all celebrants here—I have the privilege of presiding, but it is together that we make Jesus present among us by our jointly prayed words.

So, my friends, we continue to walk faithfully through this Easter Season toward Pentecost and the remembrance that the Spirit walks constantly with us too on our journey through life giving us the strength to act with love as God first loved us and continues each day to love us. Yesterday, through the Interfaith Council, about 20 people came to the Redig Family Farm to walk our labyrinth—a sign and symbol of our journeys through life with all its ups and downs.

So, in the end the amount of years we have, isn’t nearly as important as the quality of the life that we live.  This next week, on May 10th, we will remember that 10 years ago many of us took an extreme step, in faith, as we began our parish here—much about that initial endeavor was clearly the work of the Spirit—from my initial “yes” to ordination on May 4, 2008 to the support of many at our first Sunday Mass on May 10th of that same year.

Through these 10 years, we have grown as a community of faith that has generously given of its surplus time and talent in countless ways to our city, country and world.  We have stood up for the right and privilege of women as well as men being able to answer their God-given calls to priesthood and for the right of all individuals, regardless of lifestyle choices to be welcome at our table.

We, as a community of faith have, these 10 years, stood for inclusivity, for welcome and for the message of Jesus.  We are grateful for the responsibility of being a true Vatican II parish in this our home town of Winona, MN.  May we, with God’s grace be true to this call now, and into the future.  Amen? Amen!

Homily – 5th Sunday of Easter

Friends, this set of readings today is probably the strongest yet since Easter giving us a most clear direction in the way we as followers of Jesus must proceed—must, in fact, live our lives—we could say that the Spirit had an active hand here! We see in the first reading from Acts that the budding Christian community is not at all sure that they can trust Paul, who as Saul was a rabid persecutor of Christians.  But, Barnabas steps up and calls the others to love and forgiveness as Jesus modeled so well from the cross.  Fear was overcome by love in some of Jesus’ early followers—something that would need to happen again and again, then, and today as we all strive to follow our brother Jesus.

We, as a Vatican II community of believers had the opportunity this past week to follow Jesus as your board voted unanimously to become Winona’s first Sanctuary Support Community to assist immigrant sisters and brothers in our midst needing help to remain in this country.  Other churches will follow our lead and because we and others have answered any fears we may have in taking such a stand with love; we will hopefully give the church in town considering becoming Winona’s Sanctuary Church, giving actual shelter to those in need, the extra support to answer their fears with love too.

In John’s 1st letter—our second reading, we are instructed to basically, “walk the talk”—to love in deed and in truth, not just talk about it!  John continues and I paraphrase; love is our way of knowing that we are committed to the truth and are at peace with God, no matter what our consciences may charge us with.  This is a tremendous statement when you think about it!  We are to love, no matter what our consciences charge us with—love is always the test!   If the action isn’t about love, we may have to check the foundation of our consciences.

What is the loving thing to do?—always a question we must ask when we don’t know how to proceed.  Many times people’s consciences have been formed devoid of love and so we will see people rabidly defending the God of their own making, or morals intended to control others, lifestyle choices, truly believing in the rightness of their actions—all without the consideration of what is the loving thing to do—or what Jesus would have done.

I had an extended conversation with a board member after our historic decision on Monday evening and it was all about the realization that this is what Jesus would have done—we all know his words from Matthew’s gospel depicting the Final Judgment—“I was a stranger and you did not welcome me.”  And the people will say, “When were you a stranger and we did not take care of you?”  And God will say, “Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.”  As Easter people, we are challenged to this deep kind of thinking.

Often, we pray in our liturgies for the renewal of our Church—a renewal that needs to happen.  We try to do our piece here at All Are One, and I believe that each of us realizes the challenge that is before us each day to do the loving thing, whether we ultimately do it or not!  Sometimes, there is the tendency to think that “the loving thing to do” is to never say, “No,” but really it is about speaking the truth as the Spirit gives it to us and that sometimes the answer will be, “yes” and at other times, it will be “no.”   It is always easier to not say what needs to be said, to protect ourselves, our positions, our reputations.  But the loving thing is about bringing compassion, hope, mercy, understanding and truth–to situations often devoid of these gifts.  Our brother Jesus showed us so well how to bring these gifts to his world.

Jesus gives us the wonderful analogy today of the vine and the branches—we are part of something living and good and Jesus’ life force pulses through this vine/this family that we became part of at our baptisms—we grow as branches from that vine if we are people of love. If love is not the determining factor in how we do “church,” then the young that we hope to attract will walk away, as many already have. The younger generations want and have a right to expect that we be authentic—that we at least attempt to “walk our talk.”  Friends, it is good to regularly question our commitment, check to see that we are indeed, “walking the talk”—that our words are lived out in our actions.

Winona’s attempt through the Interfaith Council to address the need for a Sanctuary Church in our county that is home to 400 undocumented people—our brothers and sisters, really, as followers of Jesus, is walking the talk! I believe that we, as a community of faith can be humbly proud of the decision our church board made on our behalf this past Monday night.

During the month of May, coming up next week, Catholics have traditionally turned to Mary, Jesus’ earthly mother and our sister for the journey.  Mary adds the human feminine face of God to our world, a face that has traditionally been depicted in a totally male form.   Mary was a woman of strength, a woman who said, “Yes” continually to God throughout her life on behalf of her son who showed us the way, the truth and the life to strive to live. I like to consider Mary more as a sister in my relationship with her, than as a mother, because it allows her more of a voice.  In her role as a mother; she can be positioned—set aside, really, on a pedestal, to be respected, yes, but I truly believe God intended more from her—as a challenge to us, as a model in how to follow her son, our brother, Jesus.  We will sing a version of Mary’s Magnificat as a concluding hymn today—this is really a marching song—an action statement! Let us often throughout the month of May, turn to our sister, our friend and ask her guidance as women and men to live full and strong lives as her son’s followers.

My friends, all of us, women and men are called equally to be the hands, face and heart of Jesus in our world. Jesus always meant it to be so—we only need look to his lovely, final meal with his disciples and friends, men and women and no doubt family members the night before he died, praying “that they would all be one—one in message, one in acceptance of each other to be true bearers of Jesus profound message of God’s love for each of us!

This year, we are embarking on a historic time; we will be celebrating 10 years of faith and mission, living out the call of the Second Vatican Council, proclaiming that women too are called and that each of us is called to be the change that we so long to see in our world.  By saying “yes” to be a witness in this community as a Sanctuary Support Church; we are continuing our work of 10 years in being a place that attempts “to walk” the talk of the Scriptures.  To each of you who support this vision and mission; I am privileged to be your pastor and walk this walk with you.

Amen!

(at conclusion –pray the pledge)

“We affirm that as a congregation of people of faith, we are taking seriously the call to provide sanctuary support in the Winona Sanctuary Network. We recognize that our immigrant neighbors are a vital part of our community and local economy and that due to a broken immigration system they have not all been allowed the legal protections that they deserve. To this end we will use our privilege and our resources to stand with our community members that are in fear of deportation. As a sanctuary support community we are able to do this by providing; prayers, security, time, money, advocacy, relationship, and fellowship to the degree that is within our power.”

 

 

Homily – 4th Weekend of Easter

Hello Friends, 

In my absence yesterday, Pastor Dick Dahl celebrated with the gathering community and shared this wonderfully challenging homily for all of us. Enjoy!–Pastor Kathy


 

A couple weeks ago I read a book entitled “The Art of Community.” The author, Charles Vogl, wrote, “Stories are the most powerful way we humans learn. Every community, like every person, is full of stories. Sharing certain stories deepens a community’s connections.

Today we listen to three stories. In the chapters from which two of today’s readings were taken, two stories are told. In one, just before the verses we heard read, Jesus cures a man who had been blind from birth. In the other from the Acts of the Apostles, in Jesus’ name Peter and John heal a man paralyzed from birth.

In both stories the common people marvel at what happened while the religious authorities see it as breaking the rules. In the scene described in John’s Gospel they were divided. Some said, “He is possessed and out of his mind; why listen to him?” Others countered, “These are not the words of one possessed; surely a demon cannot open the eyes of the blind, can he?”

The story from Acts describe the religious leaders conferring with one another after the cure of the paralyzed man and saying, “What are we to do with these men? Everyone living in Jerusalem knows that a remarkable sign was done through them, and we cannot deny it. But so that it may not spread any further among the people, let us give them (that is Peter and John) a stern warning never again to speak to anyone in his name.”

The story from John’s Gospel goes on, however, with Jesus describing the difference between himself and the authorities. He identifies himself with the image of a shepherd. Most of us have not had much experience with shepherds. But Jesus, like other Jewish people of his time, were familiar with them, not only from their daily lives, but even from their religious literature. King David, a thousand years before Jesus was born, composed Psalm 23, “The Lord is my shepherd.”

Jesus used this metaphor to describe how he differed from those who were only hired to guard the sheep but who did not own and cherish them. The hired person might run away when a dangerous animal approached to harm them, but the shepherd knows his sheep; he cares about them. The shepherd stays with the sheep in the midst of danger to protect them.

The Gospel story goes on, “Although Jesus used this figure of speech, they did not realize what he was trying to tell them.” So he went on, “I am the gate. Whoever enters through me will be saved.” He went on further to say, “I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. These also I must lead, and they shall hear my voice, and there will be one flock, one shepherd.”

After Jesus’ death and resurrection, the early Christian community mulled over Jesus words. Consequently we have Luke, the author not only of one of the Gospels, but also of the Acts of the Apostles write the following, “There is no salvation through anyone else, nor is there any other name under heaven given to the human race by which we are to be saved.”

What are we to make of these stories? Is Jesus giving us a narrow and restrictive message? However, he also spoke of “other sheep not of this fold who shall also hear his voice so that there will be one flock and one shepherd. This gives an inclusive dimension to his message.

For years Christians, and Catholics in particular have been taught that outside the Church there is no salvation. As the Acts of the Apostles states, “There is no salvation through anyone else, nor is there any other name under heaven given to the human race by which we are to be saved.”

In today’s readings we heard how the religious leaders of Jesus’ time, had difficulty recognizing how God was acting not only in their time but in their very midst through the cures that Jesus and later Peter and John performed.

I suggest that those stories show us how we can, like the blind man, fail to see or understand God’s presence and action in our lives, until Jesus opens our eyes and our hearts for us. It is not easy for us to have our minds open from an interpretation we are accustomed to to a fuller meaning that is not fundamentally different, yet more inclusive in its scope.

We have a contemporary example in our third story from this past week. Pope Francis visited the Church of St. Paul of the Cross on the outskirts of Rome  for a question and answer session with the children of the parish. A little five-year-old boy walked to the microphone, but started sobbing. The Pope gently called to him to come forward. Francis gently embraced the boy whose name was Emanuele. Francis encouraged the boy to whisper his question in the pope’s ear. Then they talked quietly to each other before Emanuele returned to his seat with the other children.

Francis then addressed the crowd and said Emanuele had given him permission to share their conversation. Emanuele was crying for his father who had recently died. The boy told Francis his father was an atheist but a good man who had all four of his children baptized. “Is Dad in heaven?” the boy asked the pope.

Francis said, “A boy that inherited the strength of his father also had the courage to cry in front of all of us. If this man was able to create children like this, it’s true he was a good man. That man did not have the gift of faith; he was not a believer. But he had his children baptized. He had a good heart.”

The pope said that  God decides who goes to heaven, and that God has “the heart of a father.” He then asked the boys and girls in the audience if they thought God would abandon a father like Emanuele’s who was a good man.  At first there was silence. The pope asked again, “Well, would he?” “No! the children shouted back.”

“There, Emanuele, that is the answer,” the pope said. “God surely was proud of your father, because it is easier as a believer to baptize your children than to baptize them when you are not a believer. Surely this pleased God very much.”

Today’s stories challenge us to be open to recognize the presence and action of God in our lives. It may not be in ways or people we expect. To what extent may our expectations get in the way? To what extent does the way we are accustomed to thinking get challenged?

The Jesuit poet Gerard Manley Hopkins wrote:

For Christ plays in ten thousand places
Lovely in limbs, and lovely in eyes not his
To the Father through the features of men’s faces.

Can you and I recognize him in the eyes and limbs of others, in ten thousand places? How many others know and respond to his voice by another name, in another culture, another religion, or without the image of religion at all?

One thing the Gospel story asserts is Jesus’ unfailing concern for each person, especially those who are in danger, needing protection, seeking help. Perhaps it is an undocumented worker or family among us. It may be  people of a different race, a different religion, or no religion.

Please, Jesus, help us to see; cure us of blindness. Open our hearts so that we may hear and recognize your voice, that of the good shepherd who loves and cares for all his sheep, including those not of his fold, that we all may be one.

I end with a Prayer composed by Judy Cannato, the author of “Field of Compassion”:

Holy One, you have given us the gift of story in our lives, ways of understanding who we are, ways of making sense of our world, of finding meaning and knowing how to respond to all that happens in our lives. Please show us where our stories fall short or are too narrow, where they exclude rather than include, where they divide rather than unite. Help us to see where a story we live out of may go amiss of what is real, where it allows us to escape becoming whole, where it lets us live comfortably in fear. Fill us with your story, the story of unity and compassion and love. Fill us with images that energize us and give us hope and lead us to the fundamental truth that you have tried to teach us all along: we are all one. Amen.

After the homily, I noted that in 2003 Pope Francis gave a homily in which he reiterated the Christian belief that eternal salvation is attained through Jesus Christ. But he declared that all humans are created in the image of God, and that all have a duty to do good. The pope said this principle of doing good to others is the one that unites all of humanity, including atheists. “Just do good and we’ll find a meeting point,” the pope said on that occasion.