March 21, 2021.
Due to the on-going Covid-19 pandemic we will gather together remotely for our Badaliya and Peace Islands Institute faith sharing on Sunday March 21, 2021 from 3:00 pm to 4:30 pm. 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, especially in the Holy Land, and for an end to the pandemic with recovery of health for the world.
One week before the Christian community enters into what we call Holy Week, our Lenten practice calls us to reflect more deeply on exactly what the mystery of the suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus actually means in our lives. Beyond the many explanations and teachings that we have heard throughout the years, the essential existential question about human suffering remains very much at the center of this mystery. In the Gospel according to John that we hear on this fifth Sunday of Lent, Jesus says, "Amen, amen I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat, but if it dies, it produces much fruit." This is a reminder for Christian believers that much in life is beyond the illusion that we are in control. Surely this year of a worldwide pandemic has clearly shown us that reality.
In Gift of Peace, Cardinal Joseph Bernardin wrote: "It is precisely in letting go, in entering into complete union with the Lord, in letting him take over, that we discover our true selves ... We must let the mystery and the purposefulness of Jesus' suffering become part of our own life before we can become effective instruments in the hands of the Lord for the sake of others." The Cross is a daily reminder of the many ways we fail to love one another that can lead to persecution, violence, war, racism, and so many other destructive tendencies. Contemplating the meaning of the Cross reminds us of our own capacity as human beings to commit what we call, "sin". The Passion of Christ Jesus is an example of the unconditional love that God has for all of us; an example of self-giving unconditional love that is willing to die for us that we may have eternal life. Living as a Christian means Badaliya, offering ourselves for the well-being of others, to the point of dying for them if necessary.
If we are willing to accept the invitation to go with Jesus, to take up our own Cross and follow him, we are choosing the path of seeking union with the Divine, to learn to love as God loves. We will find ourselves in company with the Christian mystics and the mystical traditions in all three Abrahamic faiths. Louis Massignon was known as both an erudite scholar and a mystic. His own experience as a seeker of God through both Christianity and Islam, and his 50-year research into the life and legacy of the Sufi mystic, al-Hallaj led to the foundation of the Badaliya prayer movement. He admitted:
"that the experiential knowledge of the sacred is not exactly a science, it is an understanding, an interior process that communicates itself, not by external techniques but by accepting the transference onto us of the sufferings of others."
"The mystical life is above all a spiritual interpretation of our worldview where we become conscious of the unity of the Universe through the prism of the gift of sacred Scriptures; the Bible for Jews and Christians, (that includes the Gospels for Christians), and the Qur'an (which is a resumé of the Bible and the Gospels) for Muslims."
"the mystical life, through the legendary roles, words and actions of the scriptural characters finds a spiritual direction, a way of life".
Hallaj is known throughout the Muslim world as a love mystic. His ecstatic experiences of union with the Divine, much like the Carmelite Saint John of the Cross, were best expressed in poetic verse:
"Your image is in my eye,
Your invocation on my lips
Your dwelling in my heart
Where then could you be absent?"
Although there is a difference in the Muslim and Christian understanding of human suffering, the goal of our spiritual journey is the same. We read in the Qur'an:
"...Indeed! to God we belong and indeed to Him is our return" (2:156)
Blessed Holy Week.
Peace to you,
(See www.dcbuck.com for all past letters to the Badaliya and Peace Islands Institute)