“There must be a COOPERATION of all who BELIEVE in God, knowing that AUTHENTIC religiousness - far from placing individuals and peoples in conflict with one another – rather pushes them TOGETHER to build a world of PEACE.” (Pope John Paul II)
Cool!, isn’t it? I know the world knows this but I wish that they lived this. Instead I see people comparing their gods with one another, defending their right to religious authenticity. They go to all lengths to assert their beliefs, even to the extent of wars. Really! What is religion? I’m no temple scholar nor schooled in the histories of the church (at least mine). But to my small and humble mind, I believe as Swami Muktananda says – “If a religion does not teach love, respect, and regard for others, it cannot be the religion of humanity”.
I’m tired of all these things I see on TV — ministers who heatedly disparage other churches in their manner of worship, or criticizing them for an ‘inferior’ teaching of God. C’mon, I’ve read somewhere in the Holy Book, maybe heard a priest say it, of a story about Jesus telling his disciples “If a man is for me, then he isn’t against me”-- simple as A-B-C. Which to my mind means (loosely interpreted), there are many ways of worshipping God but each leads to the same God. It’s like saying, using the lingo of my mom, “there are many ways of cooking chicken, kids, but it’s still chicken, so eat it!” Yeah, my kid brother and I ate our chicken but it sure was good LOL.
I think the solid foundation of true religion is – love. It teaches us to love one another regardless of color, creed, culture, age, education, profession or position, money or title. It tells us to respect and regard the individual for what he stands for – a human being wonderfully created by one God. Flawed, yes (there’s a reason why God put that in, too) – but uniquely interesting and oozing with talent, creativity, intelligence, compassion, and wisdom. Isn’t this the likeness of God himself? Doesn’t this image the goodness of God? That’s who we all are, people, believe it or not.
I have a little story to tell. I had my own set of friends in the neighborhood when I was small, about 6 years old, and we often would play in my mom’s small garden in the back of the house. Our favorite game was ‘playing house’ and we’d play the roles of father, mother, and kids. It was a Sunday and so we pretended to get ready for church. As we were acting out to leave the house with the ‘children’, Mackey, who played the ‘father’, spoke up “Let’s hurry because Sunday service starts promptly”. To which as ‘mother’ I replied “Yes, the priest won’t wait for us”. He looked quizzically at me and said “It’s minister, not priest. We’re going to my service.” I replied adamantly “Mom calls him a priest! And we’re going to my church!”. Imagine the uproar we created with our shrill voices each defending our ‘church’. My mother heard us and came over asking what the argument was all about. So I explained, being the older kid, and through it all Mom simply listened but a smile slowly etched its way on her face. Finally, she said….”Well, why don’t you two agree to take turns? Now, it’s one church and next Sunday it’s the other church. How bout that?” To this, Mackey now forgetting the game we were playing, sheepishly replied... “I’m sorry, ma’m, I can’t bring her to our church. My mom says only members are allowed inside.” I couldn’t believe it and looked at him with incredulous eyes, but I didn’t see mother change her smile at all. Instead she said, “Oh that’s alright, Mackey, you’re always welcome to come to ours”.
I’ve never forgotten that since. True religion welcomes everybody – everybody! We don’t hang up a sign on the doors of our churches saying “Members Only”. True religion teaches us love, respect and regard for others—and definitely it does not divide people but rather brings them together—and this is the way of peace. And this also means sharing the same chicken meal LOL
posted on Thursday, December 29, 2005 9:08 AM