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Rothwell Polk

Rothwell Polk

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Baha'i World Religion Day: A Celebration of Oneness

Posted: 01/15/11 07:05 AM ET

Today is a family reunion. And, as at all family reunions, some of the guests and celebrants are close relatives and know each other very well. Others are distant relations and may just be getting to know each other or may not even have met. As at any family reunion, some of the guests may appear to be dressed strangely to us or have an odd demeanor or odd turn of speech. However eccentric or different some may strike us, we are all part of this one big family. And today we will share wonderful stories and tales at our reunion.

The family reunion we celebrate today is World Religion Day, established by the Baha'is of the United States in 1950 to call attention to the essential oneness of the world's religions. As the Baha'i writings state, "the gift of God to this enlightened age is the knowledge of the oneness of mankind and of the fundamental oneness of religion." World Religion Day is now observed around the globe by many faith traditions with conferences, interfaith activities and prayer services.

Today, on World Religion Day, we affirm the beauty, love and peace of all the world religions. We affirm their divine origin and their essential oneness. We affirm our respect for and our solidarity with them, "religion should be the cause of love and agreement, a bond to unify all mankind for it is a message of peace and good-will to man from God." Baha'is are commanded to "consort with all religions and nations with the utmost friendliness and love."

All created things are a revelation of the beauty and love of God. Through Baha'u'llah, the Prophet-Founder of the Baha'i Faith, God speaks, "Veiled in My immemorial being and in the ancient eternity of My essence, I knew My love for thee; therefore I created thee, have engraved on thee Mine image and revealed to thee My beauty."

The highest expression of God's love and the most potent revelation of His beauty is the Divine Messenger, the Prophet-Founders of the world religions, including Moses, Buddha, Christ, Muhammad and, for this day, Baha'u'llah. One of the Names that God, speaking through the revelation of Baha'u'llah, gives to these Messengers is "the Ancient Beauty." The greatest beauty in the Universe is the person of the Divine Messenger. Although these Messengers have different human personalities and portions of their messages may be suited to the age and to the people to which they are revealed, the Messengers bring the same Light and reveal the same basic eternal truths.

"Men at all times and under all conditions stand in need of one to exhort them, guide them and to instruct and teach them. Therefore He hath sent forth His Messengers, His Prophets and chosen ones that they might acquaint the people with the divine purpose underlying the revelation of Books and the raising up of Messengers, and that everyone may become aware of the trust of God which is latent in the reality of every soul."

The physical universe is "the transfiguration of His Beauty, the reflection of Himself in the mirror of His Creation." His creation includes not only the wonders and signs of the physical universe, but also includes the peoples of the Earth in all our diversity. Each woman, each man, each child, each nation, each culture, each race, each is a love letter -- an invitation -- from God to us. Because God loved us, He created us in His likeness and revealed to us His beauty through His creation and through the peoples of the Earth.

Baha'is assert not only the oneness of religion, but through it the oneness of humanity. We call for an end to all forms of prejudice, bigotry and hatred. "The spiritual brotherhood which is enkindled and established through the breaths of the Holy Spirit unites nations and removes the cause of warfare and strife. It transforms mankind into one great family and establishes the foundations of the oneness of humanity." Through the establishment of the oneness of humanity will come the long prophesied day of peace and the advancement of global society.