Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Paragraph 88

As the adherents of Jesus have never understood the hidden meaning of these words, and as the signs which they and the leaders of their Faith have expected have failed to appear, they therefore refused to acknowledge, even until now, the truth of those Manifestations of Holiness that have since the days of Jesus been made manifest. They have thus deprived themselves of the outpourings of God’s holy grace, and of the wonders of His divine utterance. Such is their low estate in this, the Day of Resurrection! They have even failed to perceive that were the signs of the Manifestation of God in every age to appear in the visible realm in accordance with the text of established traditions, none could possibly deny or turn away, nor would the blessed be distinguished from the miserable, and the transgressor from the God-fearing. Judge fairly: Were the prophecies recorded in the Gospel to be literally fulfilled; were Jesus, Son of Mary, accompanied by angels, to descend from the visible heaven upon the clouds; who would dare to disbelieve, who would dare to reject the truth, and wax disdainful? Nay, such consternation would immediately seize all the dwellers of the earth that no soul would feel able to utter a word, much less to reject or accept the truth. It was owing to their misunderstanding of these truths that many a Christian divine hath objected to MuḼammad, and voiced his protest in such words: “If Thou art in truth the promised Prophet, why then art Thou not accompanied by those angels our sacred Books foretold, and which must needs descend with the promised Beauty to assist Him in His Revelation and act as warners unto His people?” Even as the All-Glorious hath recorded their statement: “Why hath not an angel been sent down to him, so that he should have been a warner with Him?”

This is a very interesting paragraph. As you know, it refers back to the quote, "And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet." As we read it, we came to think of it as a defense of the right to independent investigation.

By the way, we have an honoured guest today, Samuel's wife, Erin, whose name I won't mention lest she feel uncomfortable.

Anyways, back to our regularly scheduled blog (which Mead missed last week). (Sorry.)

Here, Baha'u'llah is clearly condemning the Christians for missing Muhammad, not to mention the Bab, Whom He also mentions, but not, it seems, because they missed Him. Rather, the condemnation is for clinging to literal interpretation. He says that if this literal interpretation were to come true, than we would no longer have the opportunity to investigate for ourselves. We could never deny. Our faith would never be tested, because we would never have the opportunity of saying "no".

In one sense we are reminded of a friend who has expressed... concern... that their child is not interested in becoming a Baha'i. They say they feel like they have failed as a parent. And yet their child is a very great person. They are a good, noble, and respectable individual. Their very character testifies to the good job that our friend has done as a parent. But they judge themselves based on their child's decision.

They have forgotten about the true nature of independent investigation of truth. It is as if they were saying that it means you have the right to find the Baha'i Faith for yourself.

Here, in this paragraph, Baha'u'llah seems to be really giving us a reminder that, as He does over and over earlier on, we have the right to choose as we will.

He also reminds us again and again that there are so many interpretations that are valid, when it comes to Sacred Text. When He gives us all the interpretations of the phrase "the sun shall be darkened", for example, He seems to be telling us that we need to be careful not to limit our understanding to only one meaning. And here, these people are stuck on the most base level of interpretation, the literal.

Between the three of us, we talked a lot, for nearly two hours, and spoke of many things that were important to us. We spoke of the fear of God, the nature of angels, the humility of so many in our community, the nature of the neighbourhoods in which we live, and much much more. But in the end, this conversation was for us. What we took away was just how vast this Revelation is, and how it can lead us on in so many directions. We learned just how applicable this is, even a single paragraph, to our lives at this very moment. And that it doesn't matter whether you are a veteran Baha'i, a new believer, or from a completely different background, these Words inspire and move us to make the world a better place.

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