February 16, 2020.

Dear Friends,

We will gather together for our Badaliya and Peace Islands Institute faith sharing on Sunday, February 16, 2020 from 1:00 pm to 2:30 pm at St. Paul Church in Cambridge, in the small chapel located in the Parish Center. Please join us in person or in spirit as we encourage Inter-faith relations and pray together for peace and reconciliation in the Middle East and especially in the Holy Land.

The Liturgical Calendar of the Church names this brief six weeks of time between the ending of the Christmas Season and the beginning of the Lenten Fast, "Ordinary Time". It is a time that allows us to enter into the ministry, the teachings and actions of Jesus as he travels throughout Palestine gathering disciples, and inviting them, and us, to hear the words of Scripture and see our world and those around us with the eyes of Love, compassion and mercy. Living and putting this invitation into action was the inspiration that guided the founder of the Badaliya prayer movement, Louis Massignon, throughout his life.

As Father Maurice Borrmans notes in the introduction to one of his many books, Louis Massignon's greatest concern was for the eternal destiny of the human soul especially for the members of the three Abrahamic faiths. Massignon wrote:

"Our vocation, in our smallness, makes us a rich soil consecrated as a meeting place for believers, for universal fraternization, and this is the reason why from the start the Jesuit, Fr. Christophe de Bonneville, of blessed memory, recommended that we say the Fatiha dedicated to the judge, the "King of Judgement Day." (Convocation November 3, 1961 p. 253 Louis Massignon: a Pioneer of Interfaith Dialogue Blue Dome Press 2016)

Massignon was surely both a mystic, whose prayer life was intense, and a scholar who researched and loved Islam and all sincere faith traditions. He was driven by his passion for the Gospel message and his own intense spiritual experience of God in his life. His journey led him inevitably to put his faith into action. All of our readings during this season of ordinary time are about healing: the blind who "see", the lame and infirm set "free" and the merciful judgement by God of our faults and human weaknesses and failures.

"We owe nothing to anyone, except to love one another; for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law". (Romans 13:8)

The letter according to Saint James that we will hear this week states:

"Welcome the word that has been planted in you and is able to save your souls" and "Be doers of the word and not hearers only..." (Letter of Saint James 1:20-21)

From the many of references in the Qur'an we read:

"And those who believed and did good works, they are the inhabitants of Paradise, abiding therein eternally." (Qur'an 39:65)

"Upon those who believed and did good works shall the Most Gracious [God] bestow [His] Love." (Qur'an 19:96)

Al-Bukhari, Saheeh Muslim states (quotes from Islamreligion.com):

"Muslim scholars have likened faith to a tree. Belief in the heart is considered the root; it is hidden beneath the surface, not visible to the eye. Yet, the root is what gives the tree a firm foundation, without which there can be no tree. Works then are considered what is apparent above the surface, such as the trunk and branches of the trees." and

"Actions are judged by their intentions. What is meant by this is that actions of the tongue or the limbs are of no avail if they are not rooted in the belief of the heart."

Likening our faith to a tree is an apt analogy for our prayer today. We are called in all traditions to care for God's Creation. Our planet and all of the natural world, the home we have been given, is threatened by our own human greed and exploitation of its abundant resources. As Co-Creators of the Kingdom of God on earth and in the world to come we are called to protect and nurture all that lives on our earth. Let us pray together and work together for peace with justice for all people so that we are free to secure a future for all life on our planet.

Peace to you,

(See www.dcbuck.com for all past letters to the Badaliya and Peace Islands Institute)