Unification Sermons and Talks
by Reverend Chung Hwan Kwak
New Delhi Congress
by Reverend Chung Hwan Kwak
Your excellencies, honored religious leaders, and distinguished scholars and guests of this great Congress of the Inter-Religious Federation for World Peace. It gives me great joy to be here with you today. So far we have completed over four days working very hard together, striving to create an offering before God and striving to produce substantial foundations for ending human suffering. I pray that heaven may be consoled by our growing love for one another, and that the coming of the ideal world may have been hastened by our investment, sacrifice, and celebration together here this week.
I thank our host nation of India for your constant support for this Congress, and for participating in our preparations to welcome this august community of world leaders. I also wish to thank our international guests for the investment of time and heart to make this Congress possible. I am sure we are seeing only the first fruits of the benefit for all that will be derived from this inter-religious and cultural exchange.
At least one part of our Congress is related to the matter of commemorating the centenary of the Chicago Parliament of World Religions. Surely no one at that Parliament could have imagined the century that lay ahead. Those fortunate religionists had the chance to dream of a better world. They shared in the start of a quiet but momentous event in the history of inter-religious relations. For a few passing years before the tragic outbreak of World War I leaders could look at events such as the Chicago Parliament and believe that indeed the world was getting better. This was the viewpoint in 1893.
Now we gather 100 years later. Of course we have a different viewpoint than our brothers and sisters from a century ago. If we are honest as we look back upon the century that held so much promise we must feel some fear and trembling. Did we let down those who dreamt of a better world a century ago? Perhaps so, but as people of faith let us not shy away from the difficult and unpleasant aspects of commemoration. We know the principles of spiritual growth, principles which allow us to begin anew through the heavenly power of reflection, repentance, forgiveness, and new life. Devoted people of religion never try to hide from their struggles and shortcomings. It is our habit at the end of each day to take stock of what we have done, to see where we have done well, and where we have fallen down.
At the end of each week, month and year we do the same. In this way we can make a fresh start and greet each new dawn under the God's love. This is how religious people become powerful and unfettered, and because this spiritual pattern corresponds to the cycles of nature, spiritual people are also natural people. So now, as we prepare for the "next" hundred years, as brothers and sisters before the same source of grace and love let us not be afraid to reflect honestly on the last century of interfaith.
Has religion fulfilled its mission?
Also we must not limit our reflection to the narrow issue of interfaith relations. Our real question must be, "Has religion fulfilled its mission in the 20th century?" We are not a private club, free to proclaim this or that to each other with no accountability to reality. The jury on the success of religion lies with God and the people of the world, not with ourselves. We cannot deny that our contemporary world reveals many instances that bring great shame to the cause of religion. Barely a single corner of the globe does not reflect unspeakable human suffering that is linked in some way to a breakdown in inter-religious relations. We have to include this in our reflection on the interfaith century.
Let us look around the world and ask, "Do leaders of government, the arts and other human affairs respect religion? Does the average honest, hard working person respect religion? Are young people inspired and devoting themselves in steady numbers to the religious way of life? Do religious values guide the affairs of culture and society?" If we cannot answer yes to these questions, then the only reasonable course of action is to find out why not, make a plan together to change the current situation, and then set out with deep seriousness before God and humanity to implement that plan. This will require the ability to get down on our knees in prayer together, the humility in planning to listen to one another and learn from each other, and the courage and solidarity to venture into difficult labor together. Religions are responsible to establish a global culture that is pleasing to God, one that reflects the absolute ideal.
I would like to submit then, that the purpose of interfaith relations is to enable people of different religions to feel close with each other and to be able to work together in an open and honest way, for the common good of all. Eventually we must be able to agree on a unified course of action in which all religions can participate with integrity and without compromise. We need an inter-religious movement in which people of different religions confidently say, "This is my movement. Although I am a Christian, or a Muslim, or a Jain, I belong to this movement, it is true to all I hold dear, and it is bringing health, morality, stability and happiness to families in all parts of the world." If we somehow have failed so far to do this, and instead have been thinking and acting selfishly for the benefit only of my religion even at the expense others, let us simply repent together, and determine to do much better in the century ahead.
Let us for a moment think of all religions on earth as a family of religions. If God or the Absolute is the object of love and desire for each religion then this single object of longing may be thought of as the head of the family. It is obvious that the only hope for unity among this family of strong-willed and strong-minded individuals (known as the religions of the world) is if each one is ready to surrender to the will of the head of the family. It is the head of the family which makes unity possible. We simply cannot hope for any interfaith progress centering only on our own individual religious idea.
World religious family
If we extend this analogy of family to think about our contemporary inter-religious situation we can also ask ourselves if family unity is only possible when there is only one child in a family. If God or the Absolute has a big collection of religions all wanting to please and reflect the divine ideal, would such a loving center secretly plan to destroy all different types of believers except for one type? "OR" would it be far grander if each religion with its unique nature, could flourish and become the pride and joy of all other family members? Such a family is far more beautiful than one with an only child.
At last I will take this image into one final consideration. Say we are children of a family with a parent of whom we are completely proud and for whom we have endless love and gratitude. The only thing we long to do is make our parent proud and peaceful, full of hope and confidence for our bright future and happiness. In such a situation there are two things that bring great burden to the parent. One is if the children fight, and are full of irreconcilable disdain for each other. Those of you who are parents know how painful it is to see your own children fight. The second thing that children can do to burden the family is to do something scandalous that brings shame to the entire family. If one family member were exposed for some public immorality, sexual scandal, or corruption etc, he or she must deeply apologize to the rest of the family, and promise to clear the family name. Especially that one must offer deep bows of sorrow before the parents.
At last when all the members of the family are upright, prosperous, and joyfully loving each other, then that family becomes the pride of the clan and the society. The whole world wants to claim that family as their own. To me, this is the end of interfaith. We must know (not just believe) that our fighting, as well as any kind of impure behavior, brings untold sadness and frustration to the very One whom we long to please. For the sake of God we must unite.
This way to unity requires that we grasp with great clarity the exact mission for which each religion was created. We as religions did not create ourselves. We were created by God, or the Ultimate Ideal. Therefore it is not up to us to try to decide our own purpose. Perhaps God has a different purpose for each religion. It is up to each religion to go to its point of origin and with tearful prayer seek to discover the purpose for which it was created. If after we discover that purpose we see that we have failed to live up to the ideal for which we were created, let us repent and set ourselves anew on that path with the promise to do better. Each religion should want to help its brother or sister religion succeed. As a Jew I should help Muslims succeed, as a Buddhist I should help Hindus succeed.
In this process it will become clear, just as it is in any family, the one who serves his or her brothers and sisters the most, naturally becomes the center and most beloved one of the family. This is also simply true with regard to the family of religions.
With this dream of such a loving family of all religious believers, Reverend and Mrs. Moon have devoted their entire lives. From the earliest days of their public ministry they have spent night after night in tearful prayer for all the world religions and have then invested in conferences such as the wonderful gathering we experience here in Delhi. If one looks at the record of these decades of interfaith commitment, one finds without exception the unconditional affirmation of all world religions. This is consistently manifest in the commitment of human and material resources, as well as in the vast body of interfaith literature that has been spawned by those conferences. Without exception each word, each structure, each project affirms and upholds the indispensable mission of each of the world's religions which have been created by God.
Called by God
In the course of his efforts to fulfill the mission for which Reverend Moon was called it became clear to him that parental love is the primary ordering principle by which the absolute God will bring everlasting peace and happiness to His creation. Furthermore, the substantial presence of divine parental love is destined to enter human affairs. In August of 1992, on the eve of a great Holy Marriage ceremony Reverend Moon proclaimed before an international community of world leaders that he and Mrs. Moon are the True Parents and promised avatar for which each religious community awaits.
Because Reverend Moon has served his mission so faithfully, his claim should be given fair consideration. If the ideal love of a parent is indeed among us then we can only benefit, and look forward to ever growing unity and peace. His is a serious claim, which came only after decades of dedicated effort. Even the possibility of its verity presents the world with great hope.
Let us pause to look at the situation in our present world. The mind boggles at the rate of social and moral breakdown of our present time. We stand before a spray of tragedies each more unspeakable, more unthinkable than the next. The problems are no linger simply wars between armies and states, rather it is that which is atrocious, frightful, perverse, and inhuman which has become commonplace.
Look at our hearts, which of all the world's problems gives us fear? Is it not the AIDS plague? A killer for which the cause is perfectly well known, for which prevention is perfectly possible, yet one which towers like a wave of destruction over every civilization on earth.
Which problem strikes the most horror in our hearts? Is it not the systematic mass rape of our defenseless sisters in Bosnia? Within earshot of their shrieks of terror, men and women in any land can barely look one another in the eye.
At this level of breakdown we must simply acknowledge that business as usual, solutions as usual are no longer possible.
These fears, these horrors are related to the core of life in this world, the possibility of True Love between man and woman. For this reason the beginning of solutions lies in the ideal of eternal, divine love in marriage and the formation of ideal families. This is the issue to which religious leaders must address themselves. Those who are able to help their followers build stable families through everlasting love are the ones who make hope possible in this hour of darkness. In marriage we learn the sacredness of love, the reverence of man for woman, of woman for man. From True Families that which is horrifying, perverse and inhuman is not possible.
The religious leaders today who will attract throngs of followers, more than they can manage will be those who can show by their own example the hope of true, everlasting, sacrificial love, man for woman, woman for man, parents for children and children for parents. The creation of true families standing on the altar of God is the beginning of hope for this world. This is the mission of contemporary religious leadership.
I will leave this matter for you to consider quietly in a time when you can reflect without disturbance and without others trying to impose their opinions on you. Now, let us re-direct our attention to the urgent need for inter-religious harmony in our time. On certain essential matters we can all agree. We want to make the next century of interfaith relations better than the one since 1893. We want to improve the behavior and record of our particular religion, and not be responsible for causing fights with our brothers and sisters from other beliefs. And we do not want our religion to bring embarrassment to the general cause of spirituality by letting the world see impure or un-Godly behavior.
If we do well in these small things I am sure that we will naturally desire to help our brothers and sisters in other faiths. If secular citizens, and young people of the world see the world's religions acting in this humble and loving way towards one another, people will become naturally attracted to religion. We can become proud of ourselves and God will make us his close allies to lead the world to peace and happiness in the coming millennium.
Now we have spoken. We have heard each other's words. These words will soon sound a sweet chord in heaven and earth. For this we need not be impatient but leave the achievement of this task appropriately to the choir master, God the ultimate who withholds the fullness of love from no creature. But we do not simply wait patiently for some magic eschaton that does not involve our profound responsibility. Tomorrow we take action. We march hand in hand speaking to the world in silence, in peace, calling for peace.
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