By Father S.J. Emmanuel –
Today Tuesday 23rd April 2019 is a day of national mourning in honor of all the victims of the evil forces let loose last Easter Sunday when Christians proclaimed and celebrated victory over sin and death through Jesus Christ.
All Sri Lankans mourn & reflect
We as a whole nation of many ethnicities and religions are one in observing this national mourning in sympathy with the victims of this horror but also as a protest against the forces of evil against humanity. Although the horrific incidents occurred in particular places chosen by the evil-doers according to their intent and convenience, it’s a wake up call to all Sri Lankans, especially as followers of all four religions.
Let’s look into our own religions and surroundings
As one belonging to the Christian religion, I like to invite the faithful and leaders of all four religions in Sri Lanka, to go deeper into their own faiths, not only to identify any weakness for evil to thrive even within the sanctum of their religions and weed out those evils but also to fight against these evils present outside the walls of religion in our societies.
How did these religions appear on earth
In looking within our own religions let us first weed out our misunderstandings about religion. No religion, as religion, is formulated and founded by God. God remains a nameless, formless, super-human power (Albert Einstein) behind all the wonders of creation we see and explore. But to man, helplessly wondering and searching for the power-beyond, God has revealed himself to all mankind in various ways and in various times. These revelations to mankind have given birth to various religions among all people originating from all corners of the earth.
No religion can claim exclusivity of any kind.
All religions have taken their origins from some form of revelation and been built up by men with formulas of faith, rituals and morals. All religions have grown among men to help man recognize his nature and end, and to help him struggle against the forces of evil and death and live a morally good life. In short, religions are at the service of men, not vice versa.
Christianity proclaims & celebrate Easter
My own religion is one of these – taking its origin in God’s revelation to the Israelites in their history where Jesus born a Jew, reveals himself as the Messiah or Redeemer of humanity, announces the coming of God’s Kingdom, suffers death in the hands of the Jewish & Roman authorities, and rises from death as Risen Christ, establishing victory over sin & death. It is this faith in Risen Christ conquering sin and death, that we celebrate on Easter Sunday.
All religions struggle against evil hoping in the victory of Good
Though religions started from divine revelations, yet the growth and formation of these religions are mostly the work of man, who believes and guided by super-natural divine or super human forces but remaining subject to evil forces of the world. Followers of all religions undertake a continuous struggle believing in the ultimate victory of good against the evil forces of sin in this world. Hence the commonality of all religions to struggle against surrounding evil forces believing and hoping in the triumph and liberation of the good.
Adam’s Peak – a standing reminder to all Sri Lankans
In Sri Lanka we have Adam’s Peak, visited by followers of all four religions, and claiming to recognize the feet of Buddha, Siva, Mohamed and Adam. Prof. Hans Kueng of Tubingen, a world renowned theologian, in studying the religions of the world, has opened his film with a scene at Adam’s Peak pointing out the potentialities for common understanding among religions.
We Sri Lankans after a long period of ethnic conflict and civil war, are struggling to rebuild Sri Lanka, a multi ethnic multi religious communities, a united island of peaceful coexistence for all. Though politicians and governments make blunders in handling our situation and not at all cooperating with those inside and outside the country to rebuilding, true followers and leaders of all religions must respond to the wake up call on Easter Sunday:-
1. Do not allow any room for evil to thrive even within the walls of your religion.Within a man-made religion, it is natural for humans to descend into extremism and fundamentalism which ignites hate and anger against other faiths.
2. In combating evil forces in our society, do not stop with mere armchair condemnations, but come out of your religious houses, join hands with other civic and political leaders to cry halt to evil.
More harm is done by the passivity of good people than by the activity of the evil.