VISITING Peru and Chile on a small cruise ship, we heard much about how the Spanish Catholics defeated
VISITING Peru and Chile on a small cruise ship, we heard much about how the Spanish Catholics defeated the Incas in the 16th century.
Alongside their aim to capture silver and gold to take back to Europe, they destroyed the Inca culture and forced Incas to become Christian Catholics.
This followed from their commitment to the Christian faith.
In contrast, when Jesus met the Samaritan woman at the well, or told the story of the Good Samaritan, he respected that Samaritans had different views from the Jews and, although he was a Jew, did not feel committed to use the occasion to undermine the Samaritan faith.
Perhaps more incredibly, he healed the daughter of an officer of the army of occupation without demanding any outward religious act.
The issue of whether we respect or try to destroy different faiths, cultures and outlooks has been around all my life and is still strong today.
Nazi and Communist regimes tried to eliminate those with different views, as Isis does today. We have seen Hindus and Muslims act in a similar way. And it is not only in Northern Ireland that Christian groups are so certain that they are right and that all others — whether they are Christians or not — are wrong.
Jesus broke the local taboos in talking respectfully with a Samaritan woman, in setting up a Samaritan as an example of how we should treat each other, and in healing the centurion’s daughter.
Seeing the effect of the Spanish invasion of South America 500 years ago brought home to me the need to recognise that none of us is perfect and that even if we think others are wrong we should still respect them in their faith and in their lives as we seek to follow Jesus in loving God and loving our neighbour as ourselves.