Thursday, June 30, 2011

Paragraph 23

O the pity! that man should deprive himself of this goodly gift, this imperishable bounty, this everlasting life. It behooveth him to prize this food that cometh from heaven, that perchance, through the wondrous favours of the Sun of Truth, the dead may be brought to life, and withered souls be quickened by the infinite Spirit. Make haste, O my brother, that while there is yet time our lips may taste of the immortal draught, for the breeze of life, now blowing from the city of the Well-Beloved, cannot last, and the streaming river of holy utterance must needs be stilled, and the portals of the Ridvan cannot for ever remain open. The day will surely come when the Nightingale of Paradise will have winged its flight away from its earthly abode unto its heavenly nest. Then will its melody be heard no more, and the beauty of the rose cease to shine. Seize the time, therefore, ere the glory of the divine springtime hath spent itself, and the Bird of Eternity ceased to warble its melody, that thy inner hearing may not be deprived of hearkening unto its call. This is My counsel unto thee and unto the beloved of God. Whosoever wisheth, let him turn thereunto; whosoever wisheth, let him turn away. God, verily, is independent of him and of that which he may see and witness.

This paragraph, to us, is the last paragraph of the introduction. From here on out, in the rest of Part 1, Baha'u'llah will be examining a single passage from Matthew 24.

Up to this point, Baha'u'llah began by reminding us of the requirements for a true seeker, and then continued by reminding us of the Messengers of the past. Our heart is no doubt touched by the desire to have been there when these other Messengers were alive. Oh, how we long to have been able to meet Them.

Baha'u'llah is lovingly telling the Uncle of the Bab, who already missed the bounty of recognizing his Nephew during His lifetime, to be ready for the next Messenger, "He Whom God will make Manifest".

"Oh the pity!" To have come this far, to actually seek out Baha'u'llah in Baghdad, and then maybe not to recognize. This is like E G Browne who met Him, and really loved Him, but still failed to recognize His Station. The Messenger is not on the Earth for long, so He is telling us to "seize thy chance". Grab it before it is too late. These Words are not only for the Uncle of the Bab, but for all of us who read this in times to come. "This is My counsel unto thee and unto the beloved of God."

This reminds us both of what we each felt when we were on pilgrimage. We wanted to just sit there and bask in the glory of His presence there in the Shrines, but no. We had to leave. We had to go back and do His work. That was the purpose of the pilgrimage. We feel that Baha'u'llah is saying something similar. Those who had the incredible bounty of being with Him had to seize every moment they could to absorb as much as they could from Him, just like us when we were at the Shrines.

These are hard times, especially for those in the Babi community. Here, at this moment in history, the Bab has already been martyred. Most of the leading Babis have been killed or exiled. Baha'u'llah has been banished to Iraq, and has just returned from His self-imposed exile to the mountains. The entire Babi community is in crisis and Baha'u'llah is helping to revive it. Even though He has not yet revealed His Mission, He is reminding the friends of this incredible promise of the next messenger to come. It is with all this in mind that we come to the prophecy of Jesus in the next paragraph.

While there is a lot more we can discuss here, including the imagery that He uses, we want to pause here and really contemplate this sense of regret that He is trying to help us avoid. He knows the incredible bounty that is right there and how much we will regret it if we miss Him, and He wants to spare us this. He doesn't want us to be disappointed.

Instead of looking at all these things contained in this paragraph, we want to leave you with a single thought on the last lines. It is so similar to the Tablet of Ahmad, "Whosoever desireth, let him turn aside from this counsel and whosoever desireth let him choose the path to his Lord." Baha'u'llah is not saying that we will be turning away from God if we don't recognize Him, but rather that we are turning aside from His counsel. And what a loss that would be.

It is with this in mind that Baha'u'llah then moves into the prophecy of Jesus concerning His return.

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