Sunday, May 25, 2014

Worshiping Other Gods

Look! Do you see this Hindu person over there praying? Look closely at the picture in front of her. What is in that picture? It looks like a dancing person with four arms and an elephant trunk, doesn't it? Does this Hindu look sincere and genuine to you? Are her hands not folded together like your hands when you pray? Are you concerned for her? Are you conflicted and puzzled? Do you think she is praying to herself? Do you think no one hears her most inner thoughts and sense the secrets of her heart? How different is her state of being from yours when you are praying?  Is your mercy greater than God's mercy? Can you see in her heart better than God can see? Would He possibly be listening to her? Or do you think He shuns her and sends her away as a stupid worshiper of imaginative gods who never existed in the first place? What do you think? 

What would you do if you were God? Would you listen to the Hindu person or would you be offended that she does not address you by your true name and know your true story? Would you listen to her? Would you speak to her heart? How passionate is your God for Her? How loving is your God? Is your heart stubborn like the pharisees so that you cannot get beyond your strict interpretation of various biblical verses about a jealous God that does not allow for other gods before Him? Or are you tender of heart but puzzled by your conviction that there is no salvation except through Christ and His Church? How does one acknowledge Christ? Is it enough to say Lord Lord? How does one truly acknowledge Christ?

Beloved, God is present through Christ to anyone who tries to worship Him with a humble and contrite heart. God is present through Christ to those who love Him and love their neighbor. St John tells us: "Beloved, let us love one another, because love is of God; everyone who loves is begotten by God and knows God. Whoever is without love does not know God, for God is love."[1 John 4:7-8] God, through his Son's death and resurrection, has reconciled the whole world to Himself. There is only one true God indeed, but when people pray with a contrite heart and humble spirit they worship the true God without knowing. Jesus' words to the Samaritan woman apply to them: "You people worship what you do not understand, we worship what we understand, because salvation is from the Jews. But the hour is coming, and is now here, when true worshipers will worship the Father in Spririt and truth; and indeed the Father seeks such people to worship him. God is Spirit, and those who worship him must worship in Spirit and truth." [John 4:22-24] 

Anyone, be it Hindu, Muslim, …. who places himself before the god he knows, and speaks to God in the truth of his heart and worships Him with a pure humble spirit filled with love for God and neighbor, can only be worshiping the one and true God. For those of us who know God as the Father who loves us, as the Son who died for us, as the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, we must not belittle anyone who worships different than us for they worship without knowing and God relates to them. Rather, like Christ and the Samaritan woman, we must love and respect them, while sharing our joy with them speaking the truth about a loving God who thirst for them, who thirst to give them living water so they may live life more abundantly.