Featured Image: Holly (saidunsaids) from asheville, usa, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Covid pandemic has given us all a renewed appreciation of mutuality: “Nobody is safe until everyone is safe!” This is reflected in the short excerpt from a Passover Haggadah published again for the 2020 lockdown.

Pope Francis talks about one aspect of mutuality being the “conviviality of differences”. How can we be open to forming community with those we heartily disagree with? How can we identify with the things we find most difficult about them, as if they were our own concerns? The scripture about Judas’s betrayal is intriguing on this point: the principle of mutuality would suggest that we recognise ourselves and identify with Judas Iscariot, the chief priest, the disciples preparing the meal, Jesus himself, and the twelve disciples at the meal. Mutuality tells us that none of these is “other”. How do we respond to this?

Richard Rohr examines this further, recognising the mutuality of the Trinitarian God, and wondering at our own participation in that mutuality. Finally, the Mars video is a “real world” examples of mutuality in practice: a commercial company using the principles of mutuality to maintain its services – and its profits!

Opening prayer

If you are using this prayer by yourself at home, then remember that you are not alone. You are a valued member of this group, you are sharing this retreat together. Each person will pray and ponder in their own time and place, but the Spirit is with each and every one and all of you. You are together in God.

A: Creator of the world, eternal God,
B: we come together from our own places for a little while.

A: Redeemer of humanity, God with us,
B: we have come with all our differences seeking common respect

A: Spirit of unity, go-between God,
B: we have come with stories of our own to a place where stories meet.

A: So here, in this space, let us take time together. for when your people gather and stories are shared, there is much to celebrate and honour.
B: In your name, three in one God, pattern of community. Amen.

Adapted from “Iona Abbey Worship Book”, 2001. copyright © WGRG, Iona Community, Glasgow, Scotland. Reproduced by permission.


One of the Twelve, the man called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said, “what are you prepared to give me if I hand him over to you?” They paid him thirty silver pieces, and from that moment he looked for an opportunity to betray him.

Now on the first day of Unleavened bread the disciples came to Jesus to say, “Where do you want us to make the preparation for you to eat the passover?” “Go to so-and-so in the city,” he repied, “and say to him, ‘The Master says: My time is near. It is at your house that I am keeping Passover with my discipes.’” The disciples did what Jesus told them and prepared the Passover.

When evening came he was at table with the twelve disciples. And while they were eating he said, “I tell you solemnly, one of you is about to betray me.” They were greatly distressed and started asking him in turn, “Not I, Lord, surely?” He answered, “Someone who has dipped his hand into the dish with me will betray me. The Sonof Man is going to his fate, as the scriptures say he will, but alas for the man by who the Son of Man is betrayed! Better for that man if he had never been born!” Judas, who was to betray him, asked in hs turn, “Not I, Rabbi surely?” “They are your own words” answered Jesus.

Matthew 26:14-25

Pope Francis on Mutuality

Every man and every woman are like tesserae in an immense mosaic; they are already beautiful in their own right, but only together with other tesserae do they compose an image, in the conviviality of differences. Being convivial with someone also means imagining and building a happy future with the other. Indeed, conviviality echoes the desire for communion that resides in the heart of every human being, thanks to which all people can speak to each other, exchange projects and outline a future together. Conviviality unites socially, but without colonizing the other and preserving his or her identity. In this sense, it has political relevance as an alternative to social fragmentation and conflict.

June 2022, at the Vatican Apostolic Palace: an audience with Dicastery for Interreligious Dialogue

Why do I say these things? Because in the synodal process, our listening must take into account the sensus fidei, but it must not neglect all those “intuitions” found where we would least expect them, “freewheeling”, but no less important for that reason. The Holy Spirit in [their] freedom knows no boundaries or tests of admission. If the parish is to be a home to everyone in the neighbourhood, and not a kind of exclusive club, please, let’s keep the doors and windows open. Don’t limit yourself to those who come to church or think as you do – they may be no more than 3, 4 or 5 percent. Let everyone come in… Go out and meet them, let them question you, let their questions become your questions. Journey together: the Spirit will lead you; trust in the Spirit. Do not be afraid to engage in dialogue and even to be taken aback by what you hear, for this is the dialogue of salvation.


Optional Resources

1* : Passover Haggadah by poet & activist Aurora Levins Morales

Fragment of the Cairo Genizah – The Passover Haggadah Accreditation:  Younes and Soraya Nazarian Library, University of Haifa & The Friedberg Genizah Project, CC BY-SA 3.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons

This time we cannot cross until we carry each other, all of us refugees, all of us prophets. No more taking turns on history’s wheel. Trying to collect old debts no one can pay. The sea will not open that way. This time that country is what we promise each other. Our rage pressed check to cheek until tears flood the space between, until there are no enemies left. Because this time no one will be left to drown and all of us must be chosen. This time it’s all of us or none.

Passover Haggadah:  © Aurora Levins Morales.  2017  Jewish Voice for Peace.   All rights reserved.

2: Apothegmata: Sayings of the Desert Hermits

The same Father said: If there are three monks living together, of whom one remains silent in prayer at all times, and another is ailing and gives thanks for it, and the third waits on them both with sincere good will, these three are equal, as if they were performing the same work.

He said, again: Malice will never drive out malice. but if someone does evil to you, you should do good to him, so that by your good work you may destroy his malice.

Apothegmata: The Wisdom of the Desert.  Thomas Merton. © 1960 The Abbey of Gethsemani Inc.  Sheldon Press   All rights reserved. Used with permission of the Merton Legacy Trust,

3 * : Pas de Deux from the Nutcracker Suite

scillystuff from UK, CC BY 2.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons 
Watch here

Finally, the pas de deux from Nutcracker gives a beautiful depiction of how mutuality can look.  Watch how the dancers connect with each other, their awareness of each other, the communication between them.   How can we translate that into the way we are together?”

4 * : Absolute Vulnerability. by Richard Rohr (2017)

Image: Bärbel Miemietz, CC BY-SA 4.0 <>;, via Wikimedia Commons

Absolute Vulnerability:  Richard Rohr.  Copyright ©2022 Center for Action and Contemplation. All rights reserved.  

Questions to ponder

1. Mutuality is stronger than just being alongside other people. One definition of mutuality is “to identify with the other to the extent that their joys actually become your joys, their concerns become your own concerns”. “Let their questions become your questions” suggests Pope Francis. How do you react to that challenge?

2. Pope Francis talks of a “conviviality of differences”. How do you feel about sharing space, or moving forward with projects, with people who have different views or motivations?

3. Today’s Scripture – the Gospel story of Judas’s betrayal of Jesus – is intriguing. The principle of mutuality would suggest that we recognise ourselves in all of the characters in the story: Judas Iscariot, the chief priest, the disciples preparing the meal, Jesus himself, and the twelve disciples at the meal. Each of these is essential to the story. Mutuality tells us that none of these is “other”. How do we respond to this?

4: We cannot all be ballet dancers, but in this video, the dancers are clearly ultra-aware of each other, and of each other’s needs and expectations; trusting and accommodating and responsive to each other.  What is it about their expressions and gestures which tells us this?  How can we translate this into the way we are together?

5. We are each, individually and together, invited to participate in the mutuality of the Trinity. What does that tell us of our relationship with God? with other people? with the whole of creation?

Closing Prayer

A: As we continue in our retreat together, in this day and in our lives
B: May we be grateful for the blessings of this day, today and each day.
B: May we be grateful for the new stories and new ways of thinking we have explored, today and each day.
B: May we be grateful for kind company, heedful to God, heedful to ourselves and heedful to each other, today and each day

A: God who speaks so that all may hear you
B: Bless all that we have heard and honoured in our work today

A: God who has chosen your story to be part of our story
B: Enliven us with the grace of the stories we have shared and celebrated.

A: God who chose to be one with us, be with us now
B: As we recognise ourselves in the faces of this community around us   

A: God from whom all gifts come, who shares our adventure, and delights in our friendship
B: We thank you for your presence with us as we continue in our retreat this day, and each day of our lives. Amen