Notice During the Covid-19 Outbreak
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GREATER THAN ANY OTHER NAME
A Reflection from the Interpath Traditions
by Thomas P. Bonacci, C.P.
May 29, 2021
We use the word “God” too much. Forgive me, as I am sure I will use the word “God” too much in this short reflection. I am blessed to know of the traditions which are cautious in referring to the Transcendent One. Some refer to the Holy One by the lovely terminology “The Name.” others say, “The Blessed One.” Still, others might simply bow their heads, pausing as if the Holy One just entered the room. For most of us in the modern World, the word “God” evokes the sacred, the unknown, the beautiful, and the true.
Yet, the awesome sacred word is often used as a term of excitement or alarm. Think of how many times we say, “My God!” In times of danger, surprise, panic, or mishap, it sounds like the World has erupted in prayer. Perhaps the Holy One is closer than we think.
In the history of religion, the word “God” did not and does not necessarily refer to the One who lovingly creates, sanctifies, or redeems. Many have thought of God as a far-off creator responsible for setting creation in motion but nothing else. The World is free to develop or destroy itself with no interference from the Divine. The “Creator” may have endowed us with certain rights and tendencies, but the Creator is quite indifferent to what we do when all is said and done. Sometimes we wonder where God is. We wonder why God does not stop the bloodshed, famine, and hatred that frequently tears our World apart.
I am particularly struck by people who think God is on their side. They believe it is orthodox to reject those who disagree with them. In the Name of God, many have hurt, rejected, scorned, and even killed others. It is alarming how easily some people can quote a sacred text to justify their hatred, fears, and rejection of others. Has the time come to rethink our Sacred Writings? Has the moment arrived to reexamine our cherished beliefs? Has the time come to cherish one another over beliefs, customs, and traditions which keep us from meeting and respecting one another?
The Book of Genesis declares God created us in the image and likeness of God. The fact is we often make God in the image and likeness of ourselves. I now must ask myself the question, “Do I look like God when I hurt another person?” “Am I the image of God when I think my belief is more important than the life of another?” “Am I the likeness of God when I reject the dignity of another because I refuse to probe the truth of myself?”
We owe the Holy One an apology. Interfaith Spirituality accentuates what many Traditions have already discovered – you cannot love God in heaven if you do not strive to love one another on Earth. It may not be the theological source of the Century, but the final words of a song from Les Misérables say it best: “To love another person is to see the face of God.”
Blessed are you Holy Community and Holy Seekers for your practice of courage to love another even in times of doubt and uncertainty. Continue to reverence the Holy Name whose Name is heard in more ways than can be counted.