THE WAY OF LOVE

Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love, for his wonderful works to humankind. For he satisfies the thirsty, and the hungry he fills with good things. (Psalm 107.8,9)

In that renewal there is no longer Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and free; but Christ is all and in all! (Colossians 3.11)

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HAFIZ SAID, I have learned so much from God that I can no longer call myself a Christian, a Hindu, a Muslim, a Buddhist, a Jew.” Or switch it round like Gandhi, if you prefer,: “Yes I am. I am also a Christian, a Muslim, a Buddhist and a Jew.” Bishop John Shelby Spong, meanwhile, has written, “God is not a Christian, God is not a Jew, or a Muslim, or a Hindu, or a Buddhist. All of those are human systems which human beings have created to try to help us walk into the mystery of God. I honour my tradition, I walk through my tradition, but I don’t think my tradition defines God, I think it only points me to God.

It seems to be a universal principle. If you pray a lot, practice being conscious regularly, you will become caught up in the Divine and when you are you will realise that no religion, no humanly conceived idea, no language even, can draw lines around what is experienced. St Paul, Hafiz, Gandhi and Spong have encountered this truth, likewise all mystics through all time.

So why is it that so many apparently religious people have been so destructive in this world? How can killing an old priest while he celebrates Mass in a small Normandy Village possibly be claimed as an act of holy war? How can attacks on people in cafes, at concerts or just walking along a promenade on a public holiday be claimed as a cleansing of infidel cultural habits? Such claims are powerfully emotive. Meanwhile, words like “fundamentalist” and “Islamist” are used so much by Western media that many people are now programmed with the formula Islam = Terrorism.

The programme is false. The claims of the people who murder in the name of Allah are clearly false too. Not one person who truly encounters God could ever want to kill another human being. There is no such thing as holy war. There is only holy love. Pouring the rhetoric of retribution on the fires of hatred that spread across continents in this time will only inflame those fires more. Vengeance can never drive out hate. Only love can do that. If religion is to have anything to say now it must be through Christians, Muslims, Sikhs, Jews and all people of faith coming together in prayer and in mutual respect to walk arm in arm the Way of Love.

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~ by Fr Tim Ardouin on July 30, 2016.

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