Called to build bridges - Maryknoll Lay Missioners
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Buddhist monks on a bamboo bridge in Cambodia. Photo by Karen Bortvedt Estrada

How else to describe Jesus’ love but welcoming, expanding, bridging, reconciling, global? Jesus invited estranged individuals and communities into one spiritual family, teaching us to see the dignity and heart of each person and showing us the inclusive household of God as a banquet room that seats the whole world.

The Church was born out of this radical love at Pentecost. We cannot opt out of this inclusion and inherent diversity. On the contrary, Pentecost is our invitation to open wide the doors, welcome the stranger as kin, embrace divine hospitality and communicate with a common language of love. Perhaps it was the passionate, bridge-building love that “astounded and amazed” (Acts 2:7) those that heard the first disciples after they received the Holy Spirit!

And just like two millennia ago, the Holy Spirit will continue to travel on the bridges we build. Can we trust in that? In this time of anger and fear, political division and mistrust, a vision of an inclusive Household of God seems more needed and radical than ever. So, too, does a love that is reconciling and bridging.

St. Benedict said to his monks, “Let everyone be received as Christ.” This kind of hospitality has been echoed through the ages by other expansive hearts and communities of mission, including, in recent decades, through Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin’s Catholic Worker. I see it in Maryknoll missioners today as they join with their local communities to build bridges — across faiths, to those imprisoned, in the effort to welcome with dignity our migrant sisters and brothers, and to embrace so many others marginalized across our globe.

This Pentecost, let us ask ourselves what we can do to grow in our understanding of what it means to welcome, receive and bridge as Christ. We invite you to join us on the evening of Pentecost for a special celebration exploring what it means to be a loving bridge-builder, “gente puente.”

All of us — each one a mission on this earth — must claim the diversity and inclusion of Pentecost. As we do, let us trust the Holy Spirit will indeed travel on the bridges we build.


Ted Miles
Ted Miles is the former executive director of Maryknoll Lay Missioners.