Beatitudes for 21st century
Too many unreasonable things will crop up related to your religion and you will be in soup if you don’t know how to bring reason into faith.
By Joe Palathunkal
21st century is an age that appears to be giving you everything but gives you nothing. The world appears to have made great strides on the path of progress with science and technology, but yet millions are starving and homeless, potable water is going to be a crisis in many cities of the world, and in Asia and Africa we don’t have even good air to breathe. Happiness is eluding even in the lives of those who claim to peddle happiness. Who are the blessed in such a century?
Blessed are the ones without duplicity: Jesus speaks about Nathaniel as a true Israelite in whom there is no duplicity, but today the main crisis is the lack of genuineness, and those who are not genuine, they are permanently unhappy. They think one thing, speak another and do the opposite. That is why Nirad Chaudhary called Indians the Janus-faced people. The Januses are in conflict 24x7 for obvious reasons.
Blessed are the ones with reason-centred faith: If our faith is not reason-centred, we will end up in great misery and will be in trouble regarding the call of faith and our everyday life. Too many unreasonable things will crop up related to your religion, and you will be in soup if you don’t know how to bring reason into faith. That is why Abraham Lincoln spoke of the Bible thus: “Take all that you can of this book upon reason, and the balance on faith, and you will live and die a happier man.”
Blessed are the ones who can differentiate between greed and need: Many find it hard to distinguish between these two and as a result they spend their wealth and health on greed, thinking that it is their need, and very often they ignore need without recognizing it as a genuine necessity.
Blessed are the ones who can recognize the true prophets and the false ones: 21st century is an age of false prophets and the genuine ones are ignored or go unnoticed. With modern information technology, the false ones are good at display with the help of some rich and powerful supporters, and they will be followed by large numbers. Many are wolves in sheep’s clothing.
Blessed are the ones who do not convert the past into a battlefield for the present: In India, it is the dominant trend as of 2018 AD, and the votaries of the past, are destroying the present so that there won’t be a future for the present generation. Beware of these traditionalists and the pastists.
Blessed are the ones who do not become the lemmings: Though in general, people think our times is marked by the dissemination of information at an unimaginable velocity, but at the same time this 21st century is also marked by non-thinking, and so even educated people follow anybody blindly like the lemmings.
The most displayed ones become the biggest crowd pullers like Robert Browning’s Pied Piper of Hamelin with ‘A scarf of red and yellow stripe’. Jesus became the leader of the masses because people experienced his healing and they realized no one ever spoke like him and lived like him. Just following the rhetoric will land us up the crowd in Auschwitz as happened to the Germans of Hitler’s time.
Blessed are the ones who live an authentic faith authentically: In chapter two, Saint James tells us that it is useless if you don’t show your faith in action by feeding the hungry and clothing the naked, and makes it very clear by the words: “faith without works is useless”. Today religiosity has become a showpiece and often the show turns into outright barbarism.
Such a faith creates only faithless people who become cynical about religion and it even drives them to be atheists or agnostics. Listen to the most towering Catholic theologian of modern times, Karl Rahner: “The number one cause of atheism is Christians. Those who proclaim Him with their mouths and deny Him with their actions is what an unbelieving world finds unbelievable.”
Blessed are the ones who believe in being human: In spite of the differences in religion, region, race and culture, if we can believe in being human as the supreme value, most of the conflicts and hostilities would disappear. All of us must take it as an article of faith what Abraham J. Heschel said: “The liquidation of being human would inevitably lead to the liquidation of human being.”
By following this line of thinking, one can chart a different course of life that will ultimately make a difference in one’s life and the life of others. Then we can say with confidence, the creed of poet Brucellish K Sangma: “I believe I can do many things/Amidst the human angels/Surrounded by the world’s treasures.”
(Joe Palathunkal is Associate Editor, Living in Faith)
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