November 19, 2017.
We will gather together for our Badaliya and Peace Islands Institute faith sharing on Sunday, November 19, 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.
At the opening of the Catholic Mass today there is an antiphon found in the Hebrew Scriptures in the book of Jeremiah: "The Lord said: I think thoughts of peace and not of affliction. You will call upon me and I will answer you, and I will lead back your captives from every place." (Jer.29:12,14) Most folks long for times of peace and security yet we are often caught off guard by disasters that can be natural, like devastating hurricanes, or man-made, like wars and other forms of mass killings of other human beings. Although Louis Massignon was writing his letters to the members of his Badaliya prayer movement from the late 1940's to 1962 his reflections are as relevant today as they were then. In November, 1961 he wrote:
"The fanatic hatreds now growing under the perverse provocations by two extremisms, on both racist and religious grounds, must prompt us to work harder than ever at restoring fraternal and mutual respect of Christians among themselves and of Muslims among themselves, by becoming a humble footbridge, a "Marian aqueduct" between the two camps." (Louis Massignon, Pioneer in Interfaith Dialogue, Blue Dome Press 2016. p. 252-253)
If we put these two readings together we see that it is in the words attributed to the Lord God, in Jeremiah that we find the source of our ability to restore fraternal and mutual respect of one another, for we are promised that if we call upon God we will be answered and that those we have "captured" in the web of our injustices and imprisoned in our fears and hatreds of differences will be brought back to us as friends and brothers and sisters if we are but open to hearing the voice of God in our hearts. Our hope is always that God will not abandon us in the face of disasters and injustices and we are told by the Scriptures and the Qur'an alike that this is true. God can turn even the most disastrous destruction and evil act of human beings into the healing warmth of a human heart reaching out to help in the face of every tragedy. In the Qu'ran we find:
"Be sure we shall test you with something of fear and hunger, some loss in goods or lives or the fruits (of your toil), but give glad tidings to those who patiently persevere. Who say, when afflicted with calamity, 'To Allah we belong, and to Him is our return.' They are those on whom (descend) blessings from their Lord, and Mercy, and they are the ones that receive guidance." (Qur'an, Al-Baqarah 2:155-157)
In a remarkable Hadith we find the Prophet saying something very similar to Jesus found in Matthew 25: 35-45. Dr, Muzammil H. Siddiqi, former President of the Islamic Society of America, writes:
"In the suffering of those people our faith and charity is tested. When we see a person in pain and in difficulty, we should pay extra attention. It is possible that Allah is there to see what our response is. In a very moving Hadith, Qudsi, the Prophet -peace be upon him- said:
Allah will say on the Day of Judgment, 'O son of Adam, I was sick and you did not visit Me.'
He will say, 'O my Lord, how could I visit You, when you are the Lord of the Worlds.'
Allah will say, 'Did you not know that My servant so and so was sick and you did not visit him? Did you not know that if you had visited him, you would have found Me there?'
Allah will say, 'O son of Adam, I asked you for food and you fed Me not.'
He shall say, 'O my Lord, how could I feed you and you are the Lord of the Worlds?'
And Allah will say, 'Did you not know that My servant so and so was looking for food and you did not feed him? Did you not know that if you had fed him, you would have found that to have been for Me?'
'O son of Adam, I asked you for water and you did not give Me to drink.'
The man shall say, 'O my Lord, how could I give You water, when You are the Lord of the Worlds?'
Allah will say, 'My servant so and so asked you for water and you did not give him to drink water. Did you not know that if you had given him to drink, you would have found that to have been for Me.'
(Muslim, Hadith no. 4661 ( www.IslamiCity.org Natural Disasters: Punishment or a test from God?)
We have much to reflect on today in the face of yet another massacre of innocent people in Texas and so much violence in our world. May we take these readings to heart and offer our prayers, and our lives if needs be, for one another in friendship and loving care.
Peace to you,
(See www.dcbuck.com for all past letters to the Badaliya and Peace Islands Institute)