Bsp Thomas Dabre: Religion must help cope with existence

March 28, 2013 by  
Filed under newsletter-india

Religion must strengthen people to cope with pain of existence

Bishop Thomas DabreToday as Christians all over the world commemorate Good Friday, they reflect, meditate and pray over the agony and anguish of Jesus Christ. Good Friday is a day to remember the crucifixion of Jesus Christ which was preceded by all kinds of suffering that was inflicted   upon Him by ambitious, scheming and evil-minded people.  Jesus experienced prejudice, rejection, injustice, hate and envy which brought about His death on the Cross. His suffering was not    just physical but also psychological and spiritual.

However, what is at the heart of Jesus’ suffering is that He courageously and willingly faced up to it.  Thus His suffering is a confluence of infliction and acceptance.  He said ‘no one can take my life from me.  I lay down my life and I take it up again.’  He also said ‘a grain of wheat must die. Only if it dies, then it will fructify in many grains.’ Jesus described the purpose of His life saying ‘I have come to serve and to give my life for the salvation of mankind’.  Thus at the end of it all, the suffering of Jesus was an act of His supreme freedom.  He teaches us that we must be ready to cope well with suffering.  This is at the heart of religion.  Religion must teach people to learn to handle suffering which accompanies us from womb to tomb. The pain of existence can be handled well and fruitfully only by spiritual power and strength which only religion can provide which is its specific function.

Indeed, life in this world is a vale of tears.  Schopenhauer, Jean Paul Sartre, Albert Camus and many other contemporary philosophers have spoken of the pain of existence.

Religion must empower people to live happily and   with hope in this present life. Karl Marx was off the point when he said religion is the opium of people. Jesus did not did not offer any palliatives to   his people. He called upon his followers to take up their cross and follow Him. He gave people the light, strength and hope to deal with suffering.

In India, there are so many religions, temples and places of worship, but have people, who are proud of their religions, learned to live with suffering?  Suicides, addictions, despair, family breakups and social tensions are only manifestations of weak souls, unable to grapple with problems and challenges   of life.  All this shows that religions have not been effective in inspiring people to deal with suffering. Thousands of people commit suicide every year in India.

Politicians must solve the material and economic problems of the people. But their role is limited. We need spiritual strength, power and light to cope with suffering .And only religions can do it. That is the task of all religions. May this Good Friday help us all to cope with the pain of existence.

– thomas dabre, bishop of poona

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