Custom Search

Monday, February 7, 2011

Religion...Gives Meaning to Life and Hope...

The international media has been swarmed about happenings and distress in Egypt; political transformation, street protests, curfews, disturbances, evacuations.  According to the CIA World Fact Book, Muslims make up 90 percent of the country’s 80 million people, Copts 9 percent and other Christians 1 percent.  These people will sit-in at Tahrir Square till the tyrannical regime collapses and justice restored.

What is not often reported or highlighted by the media is the fact that during such chaotic times of change, Muslims and Christians are united against the Mubarak regime.  Christians started their Sunday Mass in Cairo’s Tahrir Square as Muslim protesters formed a ring around them to protect them during the service.  On the earlier Friday, more than a million Muslims gathered for Friday Prayer in Tahrir Square with Christians forming a ring around their fellow Muslims to protect them during prayers. 

Tahrir Square continues to be a witness of remarkable scenes of inter-religious solidarity in the struggle for freedom and justice.  Christians and Muslims recited in unison the “Our Father” prayer in Tahrir on Sunday, a day intended to commemorate those killed in pro-democracy protests since January 25, 2011.   Joining hands against the regime of Egypt’s President Hosni Mubarak, Egyptian Muslim and Christian protestors shared funeral prayers in Tahrir Square on Sunday, 6 February, for the victims of brutal government security crackdowns on demonstrations.  Such testimony of religious solidarity and faith within such a massive event, amidst the cries for reformation.  The pilgrims of faith have united themselves on this journey.

As we witness this historical event, many people continue to be troubled in conscience when they think about religion, especially about their own religion and the radical response it calls for.  Strange for some, unsettling for others, indifference to the rest. 

"It is a strange God," said Frank Sheed, a writer and theologian, "who could be loved less by being known more".  Religious thinkers have always tried to find an answer, a single word or an explanation, for God's mysterious action in His world.  They have not yet come up with a final answer - and probably never will.  You are searching for belief in a God who makes sense to you - who is what your own idea of God is.

Questions, doubts, difficulties, hopelessness, depression can be means of strengthening your faith and purifying your spiritual life.  In Egypt, we see that however much people may differ from each other in time or place, they do not differ much from each other in their fundamental need to lead a meaningful life and to give expression to what makes their life meaningful.  Their acts of worship may be so different from each other as night and day - whatever the variations, at the core of it all, at the center of their religious sense, there lies the encounter with the Mystery, the Divine.

Religion is a catch-all term embracing the various ways humans have of giving common expression to what they think life's journey is ultimately all about.  "Man", says a noted American anthropologist, "is unlike other animals, for he is a creature who comprehends things he cannot see and believes in things he cannot comprehend."  Religion deals with a dimension beyond scientific grasp; religion responds to the Mystery of the universe.  Religion is about our relationship with the Infinite.

As Christian pilgrims, we have our own unique set of beliefs about religion; a relationship with God.  Others have theirs.  We should not dismiss our neighbor's religions, for they too are attempting to formulate their own awareness of God as they have come to know Him.  From their different approach, we, too, can humbly learn to see God from a different angle and perhaps, just perhaps, like the people in Egypt, add to our own knowledge of God.  From our tradition too, likewise, we must help others learn.

Whichever spiritual attitude you choose, the world will be at least a little different because of your choice.

"Faith is the realization of what is hoped for and evidence of things not seen.  Because of it the ancients were well attested.  By faith we understand that the universe was ordered by the word of God, so that what is visible came into being through the invisible."
(Hebrews 11: 1-3, NAB)

No comments:

Post a Comment