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Discovering kindness and faith among co-workers

How important is it to understand other religions?

Keith went to work for a smaller company for a number of years and then returned to a larger, mainstream company.

Keith says: At first I was surprised by the greater level of cultural diversity in larger companies, compared to when I worked there years earlier. Many more people were of Hindu and Islamic heritage. My immediate reaction was to be curious – I’ve always wanted to understand other world religions, but never had the opportunity. I had always theorized that we had more in common spiritually, and upon speaking with my co-workers, I wasn’t disappointed. In one discussion with a Hindu friend, I was fascinated to discover he was just as interested in learning about Christianity as I was in learning about Hinduism. Another co-worker and I had some great discussions about what is going on in the world today. For example, he explained to me what jihad really means. The jihad we hear about in the news is a holy war within the physical realm – that is a small jihad. But the greater jihad, the one that really counts, is the holy war or spiritual battle that takes place within each of us. No different than the spiritual journey we, as Christians, embark on every day.

The expert says: We are often confused, as Catholics, as to how we should approach and interact with those of other faiths. Do we just ignore and avoid the subject? Sometimes that’s hard to do. The Catechism of the Catholic Church states that the church acknowledges a brotherhood with the Muslim community. "The plan of salvation also includes those who acknowledge the Creator, in the first place amongst whom are the Muslims; these profess to hold the faith of Abraham, and together with us they adore the one merciful God, mankind’s judge on the last day" (CCC 841). Basically, we are expected to find common ground. The church considers much of the righteousness and truth found in other religions as foundation for knowledge of the Gospel (CCC 843).

Keith’s approach is probably the healthiest. Being curious and seeking to understand is how we become better informed about the faith of others. This opens the door for us to share our own. The best thing we can do is simply witness God’s love wherever we are. We evangelize through our actions, not our words. Maybe we won’t convert anyone, but we can be disciples and diplomats in our own sense, in our own little part of the world.