21 August, 2019

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Post Easter Reflections 2019

By Bishop Kumara Illangasinghe

Bishop Kumara Illangasinghe

“Father forgive them for they do not know what they are doing”. ~  Luke 23:34

Sri Lanka is once again in deep shock and saddened by the attacks on the peaceful worshippers on Easter Sunday and the innocent visitors from abroad and from within Sri Lanka, who were at the hotels. The carnage is unprecedented in the recent times, when as a nation Sri Lanka was struggling to emerge from the depths of racial, ethnic and religious divide. This is the largest number of innocent civilians in the recent history of the country, who have been killed in one day. It is the most vulnerable in the community, the women, young people and children, who have been mainly affected. 

During the long and violence ridden history of our nation, many have been trying hard and assisting ordinary people of our country to overcome religion-based oppression, domination and violence. Even at this most crucial hour, it is important for our people to understand that such drastic and violent action cannot be generalized. We are thankful that the people of all religions and of all ethnicities in the country are able to understand this situation and they have shown much maturity in the aftermath of this most recent and horrendous wave of violence.

Against such creative background, it is extremely sad to note that those who have been responsible in all aspects of security, maintaining law and order and governance, have started the dirty practice of pointing fingers at each other and attempting to evade responsibility. In addition to passing the responsibility to others, they themselves and their stooges are making vain attempts shamelessly to defend themselves, to the extent of justifying their inaction. As a genuine and a responsible community of people and those who govern them and wield power, let us be humble enough to accept our weaknesses and shortcomings and express our regret. It is only then that the people will be able to forgive and understand us. May those who have been and are responsible, have the courage to be humble and honest.

As expected there have been many attempts to gain political advantage, amidst death and destruction. Let us whole heartedly condemn and reject such heinous attempts and drive such persons away  completely and for ever, from the sacred arena of good governance and politics. It is such personal and selfish agendas that have destroyed the fabric of our society and divided our communities.

We have observed in the recent days that many a statement has demanded that the perpetrators be brought to justice. This is not unusual. But it is important for everyone to understand that such appeals are not directed towards asking for the ‘pound of flesh’ and that our demands cannot stop at that. We need to go beyond and engage in committed acts of consoling and healing.  We cannot also ignore the fact that there has been serious breakdown in our intelligence networks and of the rule of law. As usual, the irresponsibility and indifference of those in authority, have allowed such carnage. 

Those who thought it fit to act in these most destructive ways and their thoughts, reasons and understandings alone, are the causes for this appalling carnage and certainly no particular religious or ethnic group should be held responsible or targeted.  However, initially let us remind ourselves the words of Jesus from the cross, “Father forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing”. This is important to console ourselves amidst loss, frustration and hopelessness. Jesus sacrificed himself in order that others may have life and have life abundantly. He showed us that it is only in losing that we gain. It is only after death, that resurrection will be experienced. There is no meaning in Easter, without Good Friday. The seed having fallen on the ground had to die, before it starts germinating. Therefore, the words of forgiveness from the cross are not only meaningful, but also a valuable part of God’s purpose and had to be experienced by Jesus himself. Without those words of forgiveness, the death of Jesus would not have been meaningful and the resurrection itself could not have been complete and the true purpose of God couldn’t have been achieved. This is the truth about life that we learn anew.

It has been a hard process of learning and experience for the victims. Further we need to explore the reasons for these extremist elements to act in such horrific ways and what they intend to gain.  Because they belong to a particular group, either religious or ethnic, there is every possibility of finding fault with and tarnishing the whole group.  We appeal to all people to be much more rational in this and be responsible in their thoughts and actions. This is pure terrorism, which is worldwide, and we need to emphasise on the need to deal with that. It remains the responsibility of the government to ensure security of all people in the country, irrespective of where they belong, ethnically or religiously.

This is not the time for any person or a group to retaliate. There is no need to take the rule of law in to anyone’s hands, except that we leave it to those to whom that responsibility has been assigned. It is the responsibility of the citizens of our country to extend our corporation to those who are responsible for law and order. Let us remind ourselves the year 1983, when a black July erupted due to loss of lives and their funerals. We do not need a repetition of such enormity, which took over thirty years to overcome. But that overcoming too was very limited and insufficient. Hence the continuing struggle we are called to engage in the areas of reconciliation and healing. We appeal to all concerned to, not seek short term solutions. Long term and lasting solutions are needed, for which we need to commit ourselves.

While we extend our heart-felt condolences and the assurance of our prayers to those who have been the victims and their families, and wish speedy recovery to those injured, we need to resolve within our own faith traditions to be guided by the teachings of our spiritual founders. Sri Lanka is blessed with four or more major living religions and our people are equipped with adequate religious resources to face this emotional situation. Let us decide and commit to draw from our own faiths, as well as from those of others to maintain sanity in our communities. 

It is now the time, if this has not happened thus far in our communities and villages, to come together to protect each other. Let us be united with power, so that we will be able to reject and overcome those ‘powers’ that try to bring in disharmony, mistrust, bitterness, animosity, anger, division and the like. It is our time of unity as Sri Lankans, to be together amidst the diversity we enjoy, in our communities. Diversity is a gift that God has given us. Let us celebrate that tremendous gift of diversity. How do we do that is an important area, that needs our attention and reflective commitment. In our diverse communities we are called to work together for the common purpose of building the community, by pooling all our diverse resources for the common good of all people, irrespective of who we are and where we belong. We need to organize ourselves in inter-faith and inter-ethnic ways. Let us build powerful community teams that will ensure peace and harmony, within and outside the community. It has to be our resolve to be powerful by being united. We need such inter-faith and inter-ethnic peace maker teams, in every community, and in every village in Sri Lanka. It is only then that we will be able to face and defeat the evil powers in our midst.

Let us genuinely learn to respect each other, shedding all our differences and private agendas. This has been a weakness that we need to acknowledge and discard. For long years our private and partisan agendas have taken precedence, over the common good of all people. It is not enough to express our solidarity only during periods of crisis, as is happening today. It is a time for us to reflect back upon our own selves and examine our conscience as well as our actions guided by such conscience, and to see how much we have been truthful or how much we have been drifting away from our neighbours, due to our own selfish agendas. Such a period of repentance is necessary for us to be honest in our resolve. It is then and only then, that we will be able to forgive each other, which is not just an option but something that is necessary for our ongoing journey, as a sensible and a united nation.

In solidarity and prayer.

*Bishop Kumara Illangasinghe – Bishop Emeritus – Diocese of Kurunagala – Church of Ceylon – Anglican

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Latest comments

  • 1
    0

    Thank you for those observations, Bishop (Emeritus) Illangasinghe.
    What is now needed is a mass commitment to the principles that you have enunciated and we can but hope that everyone in this country will join in that effort.

  • 1
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    Bishop Kumara Illangasinghe has made a call for the pressing need at this time for all our communities to come together in healing and reconciliation. Forgiveness. No recriminations. This is how evil will be defeated. Let us all rally to his call.

    • 0
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      Bishop Ilangasinhas narrative is interesting.
      Such narratives often are intended to further the strategic security and business interests, including massive sales of arms, hyper-security and surveillance systems, as well as, the setting up and/or continued existence of military bases such as Diego Garcia in Chagos islands in the Indian Ocean after the International Court of Justice ruled against it in February 2019. Today, Fisheries harbours are being locked and moved to Guantanamo bay

  • 0
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    Good. Comment from a decent retired Bishop.
    .
    Actually, I have met him only once, in Bandarawela.
    .
    My name: Panini Edirisinhe
    .
    No time to write more.

  • 0
    7

    Now I’m even prouder that I am a Catholic and not of any other denomination, had a Catholic education especially in religious knowledge, and was mentored by the (one time) head of the Jesuit chapter in Sri Lanka, Fr. Vito Perniola.

    The suicide bombers knew EXACTLY what they were doing.

    “Forgiveness” is for sinners, especially, but not only, repentant ones.

    This was not SIN. This was EVIL. Forgiveness does not pertain to evil. “forgive us our sins…DELIVER US FROM EVIL”. Two different categories.

    GOD DID NOT FORGIVE SATAN. HIS SON DID NOT FORGIVE SATAN EITHER.

    Demonic evil must not be rewarded by forgiveness. The wages of Evil is DAMNATION.

    • 4
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      Dayan your problem is that you try to be all things to all men.

    • 3
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      Dr. Dayan,
      Suicide bombers knew exactly what they are doing. Fundamentalsi Buddhist Sinhala also knew exactly what they are doing. The author clearly pointed out that at this jucture of sufferings they are trying to play political games to their personal purposes. These Evils wants to come back again and again. The people this nation should not forget the past.

      • 1
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        Exactly Ajith, Dayan is part of the problem and he also knows what he is doing in Sucking for Rajapakse clans. Their calculation in bringing Gota into the Presidency is going at great lengths. The real conflict begins then afterwards. Because, the US has already branded the Military of another country as a Terrorist organisation. So, the rules of War changes and the Zionist criminility is signalling that they will not observe any statutes in the UN or Hague when they fight Iran. This is the danger Sri Lanka is facing. Before the war, some terrorism should happen linking Pakistan which is an ally of Iran. South China Sea is embroiling with War on the Eastern Side. Meanwhile, Israel’s most trusted partner Narendra Modi is sending signals to SL to link the terror attack of Easter Sunday to Pakistan. The Pulwama False Flag attack did not bring in the goodies for Modi and his Israeli team. So, now this attack in SL. Who benefits from this attack???????? To know the facts, you need to watch the following video….:
        IS SOMEONE TRYING TO START A GLOBAL HOLY WAR? TruNews.
        https://youtu.be/0SYpUfdqiak

    • 0
      0

      Come on Dr D J

      It is not for us mere mortals to pursue damnation.

      The christian duty is to pray for those wretched souls who stray from the righteous path of humaneness.

      • 1
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        SK,
        I thought you know that Dr.DJ is no mere mortal. God himself asks DJ for his opinion.

    • 0
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      Gosh DJ! Everybody goes to heaven! Even the suicide bombers…..although they might spend a couple of 1,000 years in purgatory (anyway, they are mad people….mad people cannot help themselves…..Jesus himself came for the sinners). Jesus himself spent 3 days in hell before he rose again. Whilst there, he sent everybody up to heaven.

  • 0
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    Verse 5: 82 in the Quran says that ” Verily, strongest among men in enmity to the believers ( muslims) are the Jews and Pagans and you will find the nearest in love to the believers are those who say ” We are Christians” that is because amongst them are priests and monks, and they are not proud.

    Dear Bishop,

    This week, all the Bishops, Fathers and the Christian community proved this to be 100% correct, and we are very thankful; the muslims of Sri Lanka and in general have no animosity whatsoever and not even an iota of hatred towards the Christians, this carnage is unimaginable even in our wildest dreams and yet to sink in.

    Whoever who is leading this, is doing it out of ulterior motives, and right now it has spread way too deep and no-one knows what is the ultimate objective of this, and its doing more damage to the muslims than the other way around.

    We only pray that things will be normal again between the communities, and we badly need your support to achieve this.

  • 1
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    Terrorists kill and maim innocents to raise outrage and anguish in others. The greater the level of innocence of the victims the higher the desired impact. If the purpose of forgiving is to stir the conscience of the terrorist towards the innocence of the victims obviously it cannot yield any effect. On the contrary it may make him joyful internally based on the confirmation that the victims were truly innocent. You cannot make a terrorist repent but fearful perhaps.
    Just shoot him off to rid the earth of a dark, cruel heart.

    Soma

  • 0
    0

    The thrust of Bishop Kumara Illangasinghe’s “Post Easter Reflections 2019”, in his words, is
    {“During the long and violence ridden history of our nation, many have been trying hard and assisting ordinary people of our country to overcome religion-based oppression, domination and violence……”}
    PS: Should it be “….language/religion based…”?
    Lankans, in general and Lankan Muslims in particular, have shown much maturity in the aftermath of this most recent and horrendous wave of violence.
    .
    Some foreign correspondents with copious knowledge on SL, in ‘The Guardian’ for example, have said that attacks of this scale require huge organisation. Could the Sri Lanka Islamist group National Thowheeth Jama’ath done it on their own?
    In another article the paper says that suicide bombing is being contracted and subcontracted.
    Absolutely revolting if there is a miniscule of truth.
    One may suggest that the bombers were themselves ‘victims’ in a sense.
    .
    Is there someone else behind this dastardly event?

  • 1
    0

    Of course there is someone else behind this event, whoever who is to to gain from this dastardly act- certainly the muslims are not going to gain anything from this —

    Some of the clues are : elections in Sri lanka, election in India, the Obliteration of the Palestinians state etc.

    Whoever is behind it, they will pay for it in the end

  • 0
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    This comment was removed by a moderator because it didn’t abide by our Comment policy.For more detail see our Comment policy https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/comments-policy-2

  • 0
    0

    Read about the Crusaders on Wikipedia. July 15 1099 was celebrated on Easter Sunday.

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