Glory of the Father to be sought above all

Dr. A. Pushparajan

After emphasising the need of “sustaining our own renewed experience of savouring Christ’s friendship” (#266) as a means to overcome the missionary crisis, Pope Francis, in his EG goes to say that even that is not final step. Ultimately it is the ‘glory of Father’ that we must seek in all our endeavours. That alone will solve all the problems we face in the missionary endeavours, he says. “In the end, what we are seeking is the glory of the Father; we live and act “for the praise of His glorious grace” (Eph 1:6). If we wish to commit ourselves fully and perseveringly, we need to leave behind every other motivation. This is our definitive, deepest and greatest motivation, the ultimate reason and meaning behind all we do: the glory of the Father which Jesus sought at every moment of His life…. Beyond all our own preferences and interests, our knowledge and motivations, we evangelize for the greater glory of the Father who loves us” (#267).

Here, one may raise this question: what is precisely the meaning of “glory of God.” It is indeed very striking to note that an ‘outsider’ like Gandhi, has given an answer concretely in his Christmas message thus: “I saw that the Sermon on the Mount was the whole of Christianity for him who wanted to live a Christin life. It is that Sermon which has endeared Jesus to me… Reading therefore the whole story in that light it seems to me that Christianity has yet to be lived, unless one says that where there is boundless love and no idea of retaliation whatsoever, it is Christianity that lives. But Christianity is not commonly understood in that way….For though we sang, “All glory to God on High and on the earth be peace, there seems to be today neither glory to God nor peace on earth. As long as it remains a hunger still unsatisfied, as long as Christ is not yet born, we have to look forward to Him. When real peace is established, we will not need demonstrations, but it will be echoed in our life, not only in individual life, but in corporate life. Then we shall say Christ is born. That to me is the real meaning of the verse we have sung” (In Search III, pp.315-117).

Moreover, Gandhi was always persuading the missionaries of his day to accept that they would really glorify God by making genuine attempts at peaceful co-existence of religions rather than creating dissension through their proselytizing attempts. Gandhi was very much worried at the way the former missionaries claimed superiority to themselves and condemned others. They failed to recognize others who were genuinely living their faith: “I claim to be a man of faith and prayer, and even if I was cut to pieces, God would give me the strength not to deny Him and to assert that He is. The Muslim says: He is and there is no one else. The Christian says the same thing and so the Hindu. And, if I may say so, even the Buddhist says the same thing, if in different terms.

We may, each of us, be putting our own interpretation on the word ‘God’ – God who embraces not only this tiny globe of ours, but millions and billions of such globes. How can we, little crawling creatures, so utterly helpless as He has made us, possibly measure His greatness, His boundless love, His infinite compassion, such that He allows man insolently to deny Him, wrangle about Him, and cut the throat of his fellowman? How can we measure the greatness of God who is so forgiving, so divine?” So he contended that they should not indulge in proselytization through our speech or writing. “We can do it really with our lives. Let them be open books for all to study… Then there will be no distrust, no suspicion, no jealousy and no dissensions” (AR 54-55).

In sum, we can really glorify the Father, first and foremost by living a life worthy of the Sermon on the Mount. Secondly, the Father is really glorified only when all His children (the different religions) understand one another and learn to live amicably one with another. Thus the father of our nations seems to complement what Holy Father has said in a general way.

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