Kargador at Dawn

Kargador at Dawn
Work in the Vineyard

Friday, October 26, 2012

Badaliyya: Fatiha

Badaliyya 004: Fatiha 

Fr. Louis Massignon’s clear message to the BADALIYYA movement is to effect peaceful relations and reconciliation with those of other faith traditions.  To achieve this, we must begin by opening our own minds and hearts to conquer our fear of differences.

Fr. Massignon spoke often of the need to “cross over” to the “other”, to learn their language, study their beliefs, practices and culture as the beginning of mutual respect and understanding. In the process of learning to truly know others, from the inside out so to speak, we find that our own values and belief systems become more defined and clear.

Our faith experience is enhanced rather than diminished. The goal of “substitutionary prayer” of “Badaliya” is to see the face of Christ in every human person and learn to love them as Christ loves us.

As Christians we are challenged to overcome centuries of misinformation and prejudice that we have sometimes even unconsciously absorbed.

In one of his books the Fransiscan Fr. Giulio Basetti-Sani writes about his own journey of studying the condemning writings of the scholars of his time about Islam and Muhammad and approaching Louis Massignon with those ideas. He wrote:

“Once, when Professor Massignon was in Cairo, I went to see him at the French Institute of Oriental Archeology.... Only someone who has known Massignon can fully imagine his reaction to my ideas. His usual grave expression changed to a smile like the lighting of a lamp and his eyes twinkled. He said, ‘The medieval world taught that Muhammad was a messenger of Satan and that the Allah of the Qur’an was not the God of Abraham. We should not do to others what we would not have them do to us’.

Basetti-Sani quotes much more than this as he describes how, following Massignon’s advice, he began to move in a totally different direction in what became years of Islamic studies. He wrote: “Islam is a mystery linked with the blessing obtained by Abraham from God for his son Ishmael and Ishmael’s progeny.

This line of thought, derived from the Bible, is the one to take in order to grasp the significance of Islam....
Before we parted, Massignon gave me two thoughts meant as guidelines in my reorientation, one from St. Augustine, ‘Love sees with new eyes.’ and the other from St. John of the Cross, ‘Where there is no love put love, and you will find Love Himself’.

It was true, my eyes had seen badly... Later, when my eyes were to see clearly, I would discover in Islam and the Muslims the reflections of the infinite goodness of God”. (From Basetti-Sani.1977. “The Koran In the Light of Christ”)

With the inspiring examples of Fr. Giulio Basetti-Sani, Massignon himself and his own mentor, Bl.Charles de Foucauld, and in the spirit of St. Francis, let us begin our process of learning about Islam. We begin with the opening Sura (chapter) of the Qur’an:

One of the first prayers in the Qur’an memorized very early by every Muslim child is the opening Sura called the Surat-al -Fatiha. The language of Islam and the Qur’an is Arabic and therefore all Muslims learn to chant the verses in this poetic language. The Fatiha is a wonderful summary of Muslim belief that God is the Lord of all being, entirely separate from the world yet forever present and aware, providing a Path from darkness into light and a direction for worship and praise:

“In the name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate.
Praise be to God, the Lord of all being.
The Merciful, the Compassionate.
Master of the Day of Judgement.
It is you alone that we serve,
It is only from you that we seek aid
Guide us on the straight path.
The path of those whom you have blessed.
Not of those with whom you are displeased.
Nor of those who go astray.”
(Translated by Matthew S. Gordon)

In his letters to members of the Badaliya, Fr.  Massignon often invited them to join in both the fasts and the feasts of both Islam and Judaism. We have an opportunity to fast and pray the Fatiha in spirit with our Muslim brothers and sisters, as Fr. Massignon did, during the Muslim month of Ramadan. He chose always to pray the Fatiha on the feast of the 27th day of Ramadan marking “the Night of Destiny” when Muhammad received the first revelation of the Qur’an.

May we look neither for likenesses nor differences as we learn about all faith traditions but rather see just what is there. That is seeing with the eyes of Love.

Peace to you…
Fr. Jun Mercado, OMI

30th Sunday in Ordinary Time (B)

Master, I Want to See!

October 23, 2012 By Fr. Thomas Rosica Leave a Comment

Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time – October 28, 2012

The readings for this Sunday are: Jeremiah 31:7-9; Hebrews 5:1-6; Mark 10:46-52
Mark’s healing stories of the blind man of Bethsaida (8:22-26) and the healing of Bartimaeus, the blind man on the road to Jericho (10:46-52) were undoubtedly popular stories in the early Church and they remain very significant stories for the contemporary Church.
These miracles have always fascinated me because I grew up with my father who was an eye doctor. How frequently we spoke about sight impairments, eye diseases, astigmatisms, cataracts and 20/20 vision! My father was also a member of a charitable society that assisted the blind, and I vividly remember volunteering as a child with my father and his doctor colleagues who hosted memorable Christmas parties for blind people.
Road to Jericho
Mark tells the story of Jesus’ encounter with Bartimaeus, a blind man and a beggar (10:46-52) in the Gospel for the 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B). Jesus had made the long, arduous journey down the desert valley from Galilee in the north. He was on his way to Jerusalem, a daunting climb from an oasis on the desert floor to the hills of Judea.
As Jesus passed through Jericho, Bartimaeus heard the din of the crowd and knew that the chance of a lifetime was within his grasp. Bartimaeus was not about to miss this opportunity! From the roadside, he began to cry out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Some people in Jesus’ entourage were embarrassed to have this dirty, rude beggar bother the master and they attempted to silence him.
What were they embarrassed about? Bartimaeus was simply trying to engage the culture around him and let the people know that he, too, had a right to see Jesus. If individuals in the crowd had heard the rumours about Jesus’ healing powers, wouldn’t they be kind to this poor beggar and bring him to Jesus for healing?
Bartimaeus would not be denied – and neither would Jesus. As the shouts of the beggar reached his ears, Jesus brushed aside the restraints of his disciples and called to the blind man. Bartimaeus threw off his cloak and drew near to that welcoming voice, which responded to his pleas, “What do you want me to do for you?”
“My teacher, let me see again.” And Bartimaeus did see, not just with his eyes but more importantly, with his heart. Though Bartimaeus was blind to many things, he clearly saw who Jesus is. Seeing “who Jesus is” is the goal of faith, and it leads to discipleship. At the end of the story, Bartimaeus regained his sight and followed Jesus on the way. Given that the very next verse in Mark narrates the entry into Jerusalem, we can be certain that Bartimaeus followed Jesus on the way to the cross.
Blindness metaphor
Compassion for the outcast was a hallmark of Jesus’ ministry and healing stories in the Gospels never seem to be simply a reversal of physical misfortune. In the stories of those who “once were blind, but now they see,” the connections between seeing and believing are so strong that these miracles worked by Jesus are more about growing in faith than letting the scales of blindness fall away.
Disciples of Jesus have vision problems. How often do we use the metaphor of blindness to describe our inability to grasp the meaning of the suffering we endure? We sometimes describe our blindness as an inability to see the forest for the trees, but that is a rather simplistic analysis. More worrisome is the inherited blindness which so often assumes that there are no lessons left to learn. Arrogance is very often the root of our blindness. We need the miracle of restored sight each day.
What corners of the Church, of society and of our culture need serious healing, restoration and reformation in our time? Where are our blind spots? Where are the big problems with near-sightedness and far-sightedness? How often do we prefer monologue to dialogue, refusing to believe that we might learn from those who oppose us and disagree with us; refusing to engage the culture around us and preferring a narrow, obstinate and angry way of existing? How often do we say that there are no other ways to look at an issue than our way … or the highway!
How often do we behave like those who tried to prevent Bartimaeus from seeing and meeting the Lord? Against the cries of the scoffers and cynics in our midst, do we dare to bring our friends, colleagues and loved ones into the very presence of the Lord? How can we not, when we know the result of a lifetime without Christ?
Healing, restoration and sight
Abortion is the most serious wound inflicted not only on individuals and their families who should provide the sanctuary for life, but inflicted as well on society and its culture, by the very people who ought to be society’s promoters and defenders. It is important to recall Benedict XVI’s words and pro-life vision at theWelcoming Celebration by the Young People of World Youth Day 2008 in Sydney, on July 17, 2008:
And so we are led to reflect on what place the poor and the elderly, immigrants and the voiceless, have in our societies. How can it be that domestic violence torments so many mothers and children? How can it be that the most wondrous and sacred human space – the womb – has become a place of unutterable violence?
The Roman Catholic Church offers a teaching on the inviolability, the sacredness and the dignity of the human person: a 20/20 vision for which we must strive each day if we claim to be pro-life.
Opposition to abortion and euthanasia does not excuse indifference to those who suffer from poverty, violence and injustice. We must strive to see the whole picture, not with tunnel vision.
To say that we are pro-life means that we are against whatever is opposed to life itself, such as any type of murder, genocide, abortion, euthanasia or wilful self-destruction.
We stand firmly against whatever violates the dignity of the human person such as mutilation, torments inflicted on body or mind, attempts to coerce the will itself, whatever insults human dignity such as subhuman living conditions, arbitrary imprisonment, deportation, slavery, prostitution, the selling of women and children, and disgraceful working conditions where people are treated as instruments of gain rather than as free and responsible persons. All of these things and more destroy human life and poison human society.
Capuchin Cardinal Sean O’Malley, archbishop of Boston, recently wrote:
Our ability to change people’s hearts and help them to grasp the dignity of each and every life, from the first moment of conception to the last moment of natural death, is directly related to our ability to increase love and unity in the Church, for our proclamation of the Truth is hindered when we are divided and fighting with each other.
Being pro-life is one of the deepest expressions of our baptism: We stand up as sons and daughters of the light, clothed in humility and charity, filled with conviction, speaking the truth to power with firmness, conviction and determination, and never losing joy and hope.
Being pro-life is not an activity for a political party or a particular side of the spectrum. It is an obligation for everyone: left, right and centre! If we are pro-life, we must engage the culture around us, and not curse it. We must see others as Jesus does, and we must love them to life, even those who are opposed to us.
As we recognize the things that blind us from the Lord and paralyze us from effective action, let us never cease begging the Lord to heal us! “Lord, that I may see!” And when our vision is restored, let us get up to follow him joyfully along the way to the Kingdom.
A Prayer for Sight
Origen (185-253)
May the Lord Jesus touch our eyes,
As he did those of the blind.
Then we shall begin to see in visible things
Those which are invisible.
May he open our eyes to gaze not on present realities, But on the blessings to come.
May he open the eyes of our heart
to contemplate God in Spirit, Through Jesus Christ the Lord,
To whom belong power and glory
through all eternity. Amen.
Fr. Thomas Rosica, CSB
CEO, Salt and Light Catholic Media Foundation