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13 March

Mili Badrunnessa helps to bring Muslims, Hindus, Christians and Buddhists together to dialogue and share their faiths.

And in the prophet Elisha’s time there were many lepers in Israel, but none of them was cured except the Syrian Naaman.

Luke 4:27

In our gospel today, Jesus recalls two stories of prophets who go out of their way to bless unlikely outsiders. In a time of drought, the prophet Elijah is sent by God to help a poor widow, not one of the Israelite people but a Gentile from Sidon. The prophet Elisha sends Naaman, who was a Syrian, to bathe in the Jordan and be healed.

We are reminded here of the inclusive embrace of God’s love. This same vision is reflected in Fratelli Tutti, Pope Francis’ encyclical letter on social friendship and dialogue, in which he urges us to have a “heart open to the whole world”.

Mili Badrunnessa, a network trainer for the Bangladesh Association for Sustainable Development, has witnessed first-hand the power of dialogue and relationship in the ‘eco-evenings’ she helps to facilitate. Muslims, Hindus, Christians and Buddhists come together to sing, pray and share teachings from their faith. The evenings help create a sense of connection and belonging among the participants.

“I think the eco-evenings have played an essential role in maintaining communal harmony in our little communities,” Mili says. “Recently, there were many cases of violence against Hindus in different parts of Bangladesh, but nothing of that sort happened here.”

In this time of Lent, may we be inspired by Mili’s example and attentive to the words of Pope Francis on the need “to communicate with each other, to discover the gifts of each person, to promote that which unites us, and to regard our differences as an opportunity to grow in mutual respect.”

Lent prayer

Lord, Father of our human family,
may our hearts be open
to all the peoples and nations of the earth.
May we recognise the goodness and beauty
that you have sown in each of us,
and thus forge bonds of unity,
common projects and shared dreams.
Taken from A Prayer to the Creator, from Fratelli Tutti


Take some time to find out more about the inspiring and powerful message of Fratelli Tutti and reflect on what Pope Francis is inviting us to do in order to open our hearts to one another.