October 20, 2019.
We will gather together for our Badaliya and Peace Islands Institute faith sharing on Sunday, October 20, 2019 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.
During the Catholic Mass, or liturgical celebration, the Gospel reading for today invites a discussion about justice that was dear to Louis Massignon's vision of Badaliya prayer. The essence of the parable that Jesus proclaims found in the Gospel according to Luke, is that those who persist in calling out to the Lord for justice will indeed be answered,
"Will not God then secure the rights of his chosen ones who call out to him day and night? Will he be slow to answer them? I tell you, he will see to it that justice is done for them speedily. But when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?" The kind of faith, that seeks justice against all odds from our elected officials and world leaders for the basic human right to equal and just wages for all men and women, housing and education and an end to violence and oppression is what this Gospel message is about. (Luke 18:1-8)
Massignon linked fasting as it is described in the Book of Isaiah to the spirit of that call to faith that works tirelessly for justice.
"This rather, is the fasting that I wish; releasing those bound unjustly, untying the thongs of the yoke; Setting free the oppressed, breaking every yoke; Sharing your bread with the hungry, sheltering the oppressed and the homeless; Clothing the naked when you see them, and not turning your back on your own.... Then you shall call and the Lord will answer, you shall cry for help, and he will say: Here I am!" (Is.58 6-9)
Highlighting the dates that coincided with the Badaliya fast for peace with justice with the Muslim Ramadan fast or celebration of Ashura and the Jewish Yom Kippur, Massignon invited both Muslims and Jews to join in the fast. He noted Martin Buber's Ihud group, who joined the Badaliya prayer in memory of Judas Magnes, in praying for a much-desired equality between Jews and Arabs in the Holy Land. He wrote:
"This fast, which is to be observed with the discipline of silence following the first Christians, and the tradition in Islam, made a profound impression and gave the participants a deep sense of inner peace. The act of fasting is the virginal basin into which flows the word of divine justice, the word of Resurrection. Fasting makes us hunger and thirst for justice, which is the consummation of Love. Fasting is an action, an active prayer of Badaliya." (Louis Massignon: A Pioneer in Interfaith Dialogue: The Badaliya Prayer Movement, Blue Dome Press. 2016. pp. 38-39)
Massignon was vigilant in his own monthly Badaliya fast and prayer. He followed the Muslim practice of fasting from sunrise to sunset before the Badaliya gatherings in Paris that were dedicated to Peace with Justice between Muslims and Christians. We continue to learn from Massignon as we re-envision the Badaliya and Peace Islands gatherings for our time. Let us take to heart the continuing need for our fasting and prayers for Peace with Justice in the Holy Land, the Middle East, and throughout the world.
Peace to you,
(See www.dcbuck.com for all past letters to the Badaliya and Peace Islands Institute)