The story of the Tower of Babel, the actual ruin initially built of baked brick and tar (as mortar), serves as a good example of what is still happening today, though it is only mentioned once in Scripture [Genesis 11: 1-9].
When people made the unfortunate mistake of using their “one language and the same common speech” [Gn 11: 1] in attempting to become God, they erected a monumental temple thinking that it would reach the Heavens and would thus give them access to absolute divinity. As a result of their deliberate disrespect of God’s invitation to accept His graces and use their communion to fully live their partnership with God in Creation, God confused them and made them speak in different languages without mutually understanding one another. This led to a dispersion of mankind across the Earth.
If history repeats itself, it is certainly in the reconstruction of new forms of the same Babel Tower of confusion. And since then, humanity has repeatedly made the same mistake. It is therefore not surprising to witness the chaos caused today by fundamentalism, extremism and the misuse of religion within the Middle East and around the world. This is why the ancient concept of Babylonian dispersion in its negative connotation is still alive.
A Synod Convoked to Restore Order in Today’s Tower of Babel
Nevertheless, there are still people who are continually trying to recover the original common language of peace and love. Such are the people who participated in the Synod of Bishops for the Middle East. Their message is one and the same: “communion and testimony.” As the religious leaders departed at the end of the Synod their faces were radiant with hope and a visible determination to build a better future together within their Christian communities and within their extended Jewish and Muslim family. Such is the effect of this Synod to reactivate the demiurgic power of the religious leaders to better work on restoring spiritual order in today’s Tower of Babel through their message of love and hope.
“Christianity may be an agent for peace in the Middle East through its efforts to encourage dialogue with Jews and Muslims,” declared Rabbi David Rosen, who represented the Jewish people during this special assembly.
Though principally convoked by Pope Benedict XVI to help the Catholic Churches of the Middle East surpass their current hardships, this Synod’s outreach and effect could be an augur of a paradigm shift in the history of the Middle East and the world.
During his his 2009 Mass at Nazareth’s Mount of Precipice, Pope Benedict called attention to the tensions that have hurt relations between Christian and Muslim communities. He said it is time to restore order and reinstate the original agreement. This invitation applies to the entire Middle East, Christians, Muslims and Jews:
I urge people of good will in both communities to repair the damage that has been done, and in fidelity to our common belief in one God, the Father of the human family, to work to build bridges and find the way to a peaceful coexistence. Let everyone reject the destructive power of hatred and prejudice, which kills men’s souls before it kills their bodies!” [Cf. “Homily of His Holiness Benedict XVI” Holy Mass, Mount Precipice – Nazareth, Thursday, 14 May 2009, §. 9)]