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May 11, 2019

Seeking Unity Of Minds

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Religion is a call to service, says ARCHBISHOP STANISLAUS FERNANDES

There is an encounter in the life of Jesus and he is questioned: Who is my neighbour? Jesus responds with the well-known story of the Good Samaritan. A supposedly Jewish traveller is attacked and left to die. A priest of the victim’s religion passes by and for fear of being attacked does not get involved with the dying victim. A student for the priesthood also leaves the victim to his fate. Whereas a Samaritan, a community opposed to the Jews, sees the wounded victim and is moved to compassion. He attends to the wounded traveller and takes him to a hospice where he pays for his expenses and even more.

In a very telling manner Jesus brings the whole world into our neighbourhood. Anyone in need whom I can and should reach out to is my neighbour.

This is based on the universal Fatherhood of God so well expressed in the prayer of Jesus: Our Father! Abba, Daddy, an expression of endearing intimacy with the Almighty God, but which is translated on earth in our brotherly and sisterly relationship with one another.


There is no colour, caste or creed that explains our interrelatedness but just our being children of one Father, God Almighty. He created us, we are his children, we belong to him and to one another. So whatever divisions of caste or community or creed that there are among us, must accept this inner reality of our creation, and relation to one another as God’s own children. This conclusion is decisively in favour of the children to whom God’s creation and the goods of Mother Earth belong.

These goods are for equal sharing…. Justice and equality demand that all children are provided with the basic needs to live a dignified existence as God’s own little child.


Devotion to God under any name is devotion to the cause of His children, big and small. Consecration to God is service to the children and people who are deprived of and struggling for the necessities of life. Religion cannot be a palliative to one’s selfishness but a call to service. The devotee rises from his devotion before his deity to perform his duty to his fellow neighbour. Even as he seeks his God so also he goes out in search of the neighbour whose welfare depends on him. Bhakti must extend its love to the service of the neighbour, seeking his welfare and prosperity in truth, justice and charity.

The greatest act of kindness and charity to another person is to forgive him his misdeeds. The philosophy of an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth is political machination. Devotion to God calls to pray for those who harm and hate you, to love your enemies and to pray for those who persecute you, so that you may become the sons of your Father in heaven. For He makes His sun to shine on bad and good people alike, and gives rain to those who do good and to those who do evil. God hates the sin but loves the sinner. The acceptance of this truth of God’s enduring love for all His children is an invitation for my personal acceptance of the wayward child. This individual conversion paves the way to Rama Rajya, God’s kingdom of justice, equality, peace, and prosperity for all. This inner conversion or transformation of the heart and mind finds peace in the welfare and prosperity of the neighbour. The Rig Vedic hymn to Agni, fire, encapsulates this openness: ‘Assemble, speak together: Let your minds be all of one accord…. A common purpose do I lay before you, and worship with your general oblation. One and the same be your resolve, and be your minds of one accord. United be the thoughts of all that all may happily agree.’ ■
 

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