Interfaith symbolises oneness of humanity

According to our belief, when Jesus was born, the Angels announced to the Shepherds, “Do not be afraid. Look, I bring you news of great joy, a joy to be shared by the whole people. Glory to God in the highest and on earth, peace, good will toward men.”

That is the spirit and core message of the birth of Christ- On earth a joy, to be shared by the entire humanity and to spread peace, love and goodwill towards everyone. The spirit of Christmas is ‘Love and Peace in Action.’

This year’s Christmas Spirit in New Zealand began on November 13, when representatives and people of different faiths gathered as one community to promote Love and Peace in the name of Blessed Mother Teresa of Kolkata.

The following messages from representatives of different faiths summarise Christmas for each us, encouraging us to work together for the common good.

Divine Tolerance

Speaking on ‘Tolerance,’ Hindu Council of New Zealand President Vinod Kumar said that Hinduism reveres the Divine.

“The Highest Divine Powers complement each other for the wellbeing of the World and mankind understands harmonious global society that must prosper and live in peace. Truth can never be the monopoly of one sector creed,” he said.

Federation of Islamic Associations in New Zealand President Dr Anwar Ghani spoke on ‘Harmony,’ saying that it could be defined in two ways- Internal and External.

“You should achieve Harmony within yourself first and then create an environment which is peaceful and respectful. Look after your family and meet your obligations. You would then be confident to contribute to the External Harmony with your neighbour, the community and the country. Internal Harmony fuels External Harmony, which creates a powerful and harmonious world,” he said.

Service above Self

Auckland Sikh Society Secretary Raj Bedi emphasised the importance of ‘Service,’ and said that it had two distinct connotations, namely to serve and worship.

“One has to work towards the common good of all humanity. It has to be selfless service. One finds peace and tranquillity in rendering such service and achieves honour in the court of God,” he said.

Dorje Chang Institute Resident Teacher Venerable Geshe Thupten Wangchen extolled the Buddhist philosophy of ‘Peace.’

He said that Peace and Happiness are impossible in the presence of Anger and Hatred. “Excessive indulgence in external materialism will also destroy peace of mind. Happiness can be achieved through unconditional Love and Compassion,” he said.

Speaking for the Maori community, Bobby Newson emphasised the importance of ‘Care and Compassion.’

“We must keep in mind the effect of what we have on others. The guiding principles are therefore to be just and honest. Through this process, Love, Care and Compassion would flow. This has to permeate throughout New Zealand,” he said.

Mutual Understanding

Homi Shroff represented the Zoroastrian Community. Speaking on ‘Mutual Understanding,’ he said that Zoroastrians also consider Man as the highest creation of God.

“God wanted man to be His agent with a good mind that thinks good thoughts, renders good words and does good deeds. There is no room for intolerance, entertaining any kind of hatred or causing pain to another human being,” he said.

Evgeny Orlov of the Jewish Community spoke about ‘Love.’

He said, “If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonour others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered. It keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”

Auckland’s Catholic Bishop Most Reverend Patrick Dunn said Mother Teresa devoted her life for serving the poor with a sense of joy, enormous faith and generosity.

“The individual random act of kindness that each of us do can change the World,” he said.

Messiah for Humanity

Jesus came to the world for humankind to practice Tolerance, to be of Service, promote Peace and Love, show act of Kindness, inculcate Mutual Understanding, be Generous, remain Joyful and build a Just World.

This is the Spirit of Christmas. Jesus taught us the Prayer ‘Our Father,’ where we pray that God’s will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.

Representatives of different Faiths gave testimony to these virtues and I pray that the Spirit of Christmas will remain strong throughout the New Year.

The following words of Mother Teresa should guide us through life:

People are often unreasonable, illogical, and self-centred

Forgive them anyway

If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives

Be kind anyway

If you are successful, you will win some false friends and some true enemies

Succeed anyway

What you spend years of building, someone could destroy overnight

Build anyway

If you find serenity and happiness, they may be jealous

Be happy anyway

The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow

Do good anyway

Give the world the best you have, and it may never be enough

Give the world the best anyway

You see, in the final analysis, it is between you and God

It was never between you and them anyway

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