How do you say God in Spanish?” The students taking Spanish answer Dios.

“Similarly, the Arabic word for God is Allah; so, when we study Islam this year, remember when Muslims refer to Allah, they are talking about the same God as Christians and Jews.”  “What?” is followed by misconceptions students have about Islam. U.S. media barrages us with ways “they” are different from “us.”

Thankfully, today’s first reading teaches us that our God is a God of “we.” Sarah fearfully draws a line in her heart between “us” and “them.” God tells Abraham not to stress and promises a great nation to descendants of Ishmael as well. Hagar’s well is where Mecca is born, connecting Muslims, Jews and Christians.

Do we draw lines in our hearts between “us” and “them”? Can we respond as Abraham did with tenderness and openness, following God’s promise of compassion and a “home” in his heart for all?

—Jackie Beale-DelVecchio is a middle school religion teacher at the Sacred Heart Schools, Chicago, IL.