June 18, 2017.
We will gather together for our Badaliya and Peace Islands Institute faith sharing on Sunday, June 18, 2017 from 3:00 pm to 4:30 pm at St. Paul Church in Cambridge, in the small chapel located in the Parish Center. Please join us in person or in spirit as we encourage Inter-faith relations and pray together for peace and reconciliation in the Middle East and especially in the Holy Land.
We join with our Muslim friends in this final week of Ramadan and in the expectation of a joyful celebration of the festival of the breaking of the fast, called Eid-al-Fitr, from Sunday June 25th to Wednesday June 28th. The festival includes showing gratitude to Allah and an act of charity by giving to the poor and needy, called Zakat-ul-fitr. Muslims are encouraged to forgive any differences with others throughout the past year and to join in the traditional communal Eid prayer, called Salaat, followed by joyful gatherings of family and friends in their homes or cultural centers. It is a celebration that might remind Christians of their celebrations of Christmas, as Eid gifts are often given to the children as well. Every Muslim country has different traditions connected to Eid-al-fitr but generosity and hospitality are the major themes of this festival throughout the Muslim world.
Today in the Catholic Christian tradition we celebrate the solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ. This is perhaps one of the more difficult understandings of the message of Jesus for non- Christians. What is commonly called receiving Communion, or the Eucharist, that was instituted by Jesus at the Last Supper, or Passover meal celebrated with his disciples before his crucifixion and resurrection, has become the means to the fullness of life in God through Him that He promised. Our readings today remind us of the Hebrew Scriptures description of God feeding the wandering Jewish tribe in the desert with manna, reminding them that we "live not by bread alone but by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord".(Deut. 8:2-3) Saint Paul reminds us in his letter to the community at Corinth that by receiving communion we are participating in the body of Christ. We, though many are one in Him. In the Gospel according to John we hear Jesus telling the crowds that, "I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats of this bread will live forever; and the bread that I give is my flesh for the life of the world."(John 6:51-58)
I am reminded of the words of the 10th century Persian Sufi mystical lover of God known as al-Hallaj, that so inspired the spirituality and life of the founder of the Badaliya prayer movement, Louis Massignon, Hallaj wrote:
"I have become the One who I love, and the One I love has become me! We are two spirits merged into one body! To see me is to see Him and to see Him is to see Us."
Out of this reflection we as both Muslims and Christians pray that by being nourished by the love of God we may be better able to care for the poor and needy among us, to ask for and gratefully receive forgiveness, to become more generous and hospitable toward the strangers among us and to celebrate our different faith traditions with gratitude to God for one another. May our shared prayer be a light shining in the darkness of the divisions and violence in our world and dispel the fears of a world moving inevitably toward a global community and a shared reality.
Peace to you and a Blessed and Holy summer,
(Hallaj quotation is from Louis Massignon, Le Diwan d'al-Hallaj. 1955. Paris Librairie Orientalist , Paul Geuthner. p. 93.
(See www.dcbuck.com for all past letters to the Badaliya and Peace Islands Institute)