INTERFAITH TALK @ UNITY

“Blessed are the peacemakers.” -Mathew 5: 9
Unity College most graciously welcomed Rev. Fr. (Dr.) Donald De Souza - Parish Priest of St. Joseph’s Cathedral Church, Lucknow and Manager of the two prestigious city schools- St. Francis College and Cathedral Sr. Sec. School for an Interfaith Talk on 21st December, 2021. The ‘Interfaith Talk' has been in a series of enlightening discourse scheduled by the College with the prime objective to enlighten the students about the importance of interfaith and religious harmony. Besides, the students are to be sensitized towards mutual understanding of interreligious dialogues to create dimensions of a peaceful culture and interfaith harmony between all people regardless of their faith.

Principal Mr. Francis Castelino warmly welcomed Rev. Fr. (Dr.) De Souza. He said the hallmark of every religion is peace and motivated the students to study other religions too in order to live in peace and harmony. 

Rev. Fr. De Souza shared some reflections of the teachings of Jesus Christ. He said that both the followers of Islam and Christianity hold Jesus with high regard even though they stay on different foundations. He reflected upon the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem and the cry of the angels, “Glory to God in the highest; Peace to all people of goodwill.” He said that we all know the world today needs peace and harmony. There is so much turmoil all around us; constant fear of war among nations, skirmishes between nations or within a nation. In such an atmosphere, the whole being of Christmas becomes very relevant for it is a message of Peace, Joy, Love and Brotherhood. We all are called upon to practice the same in our daily life. Peace and harmony are symmetry connected. We live in harmony when we start connecting with our friends, family, partners and neighbours. We must focus on dealing with disharmony with a generous, compassionate and humanitarian approach for the welfare of people within a community and at large.

He also shed light on the references of peace in the Old as well as the New Testaments, and the four versions of the Gospel. All through, the Bible speaks of peace, and that the Lord blesses His people with peace. Jesus Christ said, “Live at Peace with everyone.” In Hebrew, the traditional greeting among Jews is ‘Shalom’ which also means peace. In a very fundamental way, we need peace and harmony in our own country of diverse religions. It is not only the duty of the nation but also a big responsibility of every citizen to preserve peace and harmony. 

He reflected on the tremendous similarities between both the faiths, and said that the Bible is a book of Peace and Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace; while Muslims call the holy names of Prophet Muhammad and Prophet Isa with a prayer ‘Peace Be upon Him’. The Quran has a full chapter on Mother Mary, and no other book, not even the Bible has any such chapter. Noah, Moses, David and Jesus and some other Prophets are highly honoured in the Islamic tradition. So, both faiths have more in common than that which separates it. 

He concluded with Christmas greetings and wished the young citizens to become the messengers of peace.  
It was followed by a rich discourse of students with Rev. Fr. De Souza. Answering one of the questions, ‘Can interfaith talk deal with violent extremism?’ he said a religious person does not argue, but shares his religious experience and listens to others too. And this establishes peace and harmony. He stressed never to prove that you are better but share your religion with each other. In fact, intolerance is growing in India because Men of Goodwill are quiet. They must speak and fight to remove it.

College Jt. Secretary Dr. M. Talha gave a vote of thanks. He said though every religion speaks for peace, there is a dissonance between what we say and what we do. History stands witness that religious people are not always peace loving. Many men like Hitler and Saddam Hussain were very religious, still they had been very cruel to humanity.

The discourse of Peace and Harmony culminated on the universal note- ‘Love to God is love for His creatures’.
 

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