Westminster Interfaith: Promoting Dialogue Between People of Faith

The agency of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Westminster for Interreligious Dialogue

Westminster Interfaith Newsletter

Issue 64 – November 2009

The Golden Rule

Recently someone said that the Golden Rule was not enough. I wondered what that person meant. I did not have the opportunity to ask. It made me think, however: in what way is it not enough? Surely, if we all lived by the Golden Rule, interpersonal relations would improve enormously. The world would be a much better place to live in. The Golden Rule is present in all religions. The Christian version appears in numerous passages in Scripture. The best known is: Do to others as you would have them do to you (Luke 6:31). Even people with no particular faith tradition subscribe to this ideal. Maybe, like so many things today, they have become just words, empty words without any real meaning. Certainly, most of us find these words extremely difficult to put into practice all of the time. They are utopia - just an ideal - an impossible dream. Yet, in the last issue of the newsletter, we read how people, who tried to live according to this ideal, managed to transform their environment and improve relations with people of all faiths and none. We need to recapture the true meaning of these words, meditate on them and act on them. There are more examples in this issue.

In November, we took part in the first national Inter Faith Week. The activities and encounters between people of different faiths would not have been possible if the participants were not prepared to treat each other with the same degree of respect, courtesy, tolerance, understanding and compassion they expected to be treated with themselves. Indeed, all inter faith encounters, and the creation of Inter Faith Week itself, have been forged precisely on these reciprocal relationships based on love for our fellow human beings. To foster these mutual relationships well involves a high degree of self-renunciation. It involves a lot of give and take - a lot of letting go. Most of us are very attached to many things: our way of thinking, our faith, our neighbourhood, our nation, our culture, our language, our family; and rightly so, but often, to the total exclusion of everything else and others.

Perhaps, for us Christians, the answer lies very much in Christ's new commandment of love: 'love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another' (John 13, 34). Only when we are prepared to love, as Jesus taught, by laying down our life for our friends, even our enemies, if need be, will we really master the implications of the Golden Rule and help build a better and united world based on peace, mutual respect and solidarity. So what are the missing ingredients? There are many. We need to believe and hope that the Golden Rule is possible to achieve. We have to want to live it and put it into practice in all our dealings and relationships. We need to trust in the love, mercy and grace of God, which God gives freely to all who ask sincerely from their hearts.. Asking God for grace is an important aspect of prayer. Prayer is an essential ingredient in the faith and practice of all religious traditions. As we approach the celebration of the birthday of Jesus Christ, let us pray for the grace and perseverance to love everyone as Jesus loved, so that the love of God, who promised to be always with us till the end of time, may reign in our hearts today and everyday.

Jon

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