“Where are the great saints and saviors to help guide us today? God doesn’t seem to be present in the world anymore.” As the world appears to be descending into a downward spiral of lost values, faith, and hope, we often hear this lament from friends.
Yet if we change our expectations of God to appear as a wise, benevolent bearded sage in flowing robes blessing the multitudes, we might see that He is very much present, but in a different guise. For in the evolution of human consciousness, God appears according to the lessons that mankind needs at any particular time.
In the Bible Jesus Christ describes how to please God and therefore enter the kingdom of heaven: “For I was hungry, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in; naked, and ye clothed me; I was sick, and ye visited me; I was in prison, and ye came unto me.”
Then the righteous asked, “Lord, when saw we thee hungry, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?”
And the Lord answered, “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” (Matthew 25:35–40)
When we see photos of boatloads of homeless immigrants looking for sanctuary; or starving children whose country has been devastated by civil war; or medical providers in hospitals working past the point of exhaustion, what is evoked in our heart? Is it compassion, pity, and the desire to do what we can to help others? Or indifference, judgment, and the thought that it’s not our problem?
Perhaps God needs to come to us now as widespread suffering in order to awaken selfless love for others in our breast and break the dominant thoughts of greed and self-interest. At the heart of every saint or savior of any religion is the deepest compassion for the anguish of “the least of my brethren.”
Now, in this age of cynicism, great saints might appear, only to be rejected by the majority of mankind. Instead God may be coming to us in the form of human suffering to awaken divine compassion within humanity. For as Christ said, when we alleviate someone else’s suffering, we are actually drawing closer to God, who is present both in our acts of compassion and in those we help.
A friend recently sent me a beautiful prayer/poem written by a French priest, Michel Quoist, who died in 1997. It’s rather long, so I’ll condense it here for you:
Lord, Why Did You Tell Me to Love?
Lord, why did you tell me to love all men, my brothers?
I have tried, but I come back to you, frightened . . .
I did not know they were so near; in this house, in this street, in this office; my neighbor, my colleague, my friend.
As soon as I started to open the door I saw them, with outstretched hands, anxious eyes, longing hearts . . .
They are too hungry; they are consuming me!
Lord! I have lost everything . . .
Don’t worry, God says, you have gained all,
While men came in to you,
I, your Father,
I, your God,
Slipped in among them.
Now more than ever we need to bring joy and hope to someone who has sunk into despair. We need to practice patience with people who have very different views of reality than our own. We need to accept that even though we can’t change the whole world, we can bring light into the lives of those around us.
And now, more than ever, we need to understand that every act of service, compassion, and love draws God’s presence powerfully into the world. That day will come when no one will doubt the reality of His existence, and when we feel our oneness with Him and with one another.
Joined with you in world brotherhood,
About World Brotherhood Day at Ananda Worldwide: Sunday, December 6, 4pm PST
Nayaswami Jyotish, Nayaswami Devi, and the Ananda Outreach Ministries invite you to join them for an event of inspiration and fellowship with your Ananda family from around the world. This is our opportunity to come together to offer the first gifts of the season.
To join: https://www.ananda.org/world-brotherhood-day-2020/
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