Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Paragraph 47

Moreover, consider the hardships and the bitterness of the lives of those Revealers of the divine Beauty. Reflect, how single-handed and alone they faced the world and all its peoples, and promulgated the Law of God! No matter how severe the persecutions inflicted upon those holy, those precious, and tender Souls, they still remained, in the plenitude of their power, patient, and, despite their ascendancy, they suffered and endured.

This paragraph has given us pause. While it is quite short, we feel that it is laden with many meanings, and is a reminder of something very important.

To start, we noticed the word "moreover". This clearly implies that Baha'u'llah is expanding a point that He has just made. Our question is, of course, what point was that? Reading the rest of this paragraph doesn't immediately give us a clue.

And so we looked back a bit and re-established the context in which we are reading this. It occurs in the larger section in which He is describing the Sun and the Moon in that prophecy of Jesus from Matthew 24. He has just talked about how the Sun arises each day, and could appear to be different, as we call it by a different name on each day, be it Monday or Tuesday or whatever. Yet, He reminds us that it is always the Sun, which we recognize by its light and warmth.

This, to us, appears to be the context of that opening word, "moreover".

Then He tells us to "consider". How often have we been told, in this mighty Book, to consider the past? Way back in paragraph 3 He told us to do this. And regularly, throughout the Book, He reminds us to do this.

But what is it that we are to consider? The lives of the Revealers, and in particular the hardships and bitterness They faced. Does this sound familiar? It should, for that is what He told us to consider way back in paragraph 6. He said that we should acquaint ourselves "with the indignities heaped upon the Prophets of God". He informed us that the more closely we observe the denials of the opposers, the firmer will be our faith in the Cause of God.

To help us strengthen our faith, which is one of the primary purposes of this whole Book, He reminds us of these persecutions, and Their response. Paragraphs 7 through 21 are all about these trials and tests They faced, and Baha'u'llah is gently bringing this back into our consciousness.

He finishes this thought off with another reminder of how They faced these tests and trials with patience. He reminds us that They suffered. They did not, somehow, escape the suffering inherent in life, but instead endured it all.

How often have we heard the criticism that someone can't be a messenger because they were ridiculed or imprisoned? Baha'u'llah points out that every Messenger suffered such trials, or worse. The difference between Them and a normal person is that They endured with godly patience.

What a lesson for us all.

Another question that comes to us is "What were They patient with?" Were They patient with those who caused Them such suffering? Or were They patient with allowing us to begin to understand Their Message? Or were They, perhaps, patient in how They revealed Their station or laws? We think it could be all of these. We can see just how patiently Baha'u'llah is expounding His message here to the Uncle of the Bab. We can also see, much later in the book, how He exalts the station of patience in the heart of the true seeker, and how He says that the patience of the Babis in their suffering played such a pivotal role in the spread of the Faith.

One last word that stands out for us is the word "tender". We can easily understand why He describes that Manifestations of God as precious and holy, but tender seems a bit unusual. And while we are not sure, of course, we think this might be linked to the fact that They do suffer. They are not somehow oblivious or immune to the sufferings that They face. They do face them. They do feel them. But They endure. And that is what is special. Despite Their power and ascendancy, They patiently endured what we inflicted upon Them, and continued to promote the Word of God. This is a sign of Their love for God, and for us.