12 January 2021
Mr Ross, Head of Theology & Sacred Heart Coordinator
World Religion Day is celebrated every January on the third Sunday of the month to promote understanding and peace between all religions. This year it’s on 17 January 2021. The day was initially started by the Bahá’í faith. ‘The Bahá’í Faith was founded by Bahá’u’lláh in the 19th century. Bahá’ís, who are followers of Bahá’u’lláh, strive to apply His teachings to their daily lives. Bahá’ís believe Bahá’u’lláh to be a Divinely Inspired Educator, entrusted by God to deliver His message to all of humanity for today.’ (https://www.bahai.org.uk)
The image shows the Baha’I Temple in New Delhi, India.
Today, World Religion Day seeks to promote understanding and appreciation of the diverse religious traditions and practices that exist within our global community. The day celebrates the commonalities that religions share, emphasising the need for unity and cooperation. At an inter-religious meeting in Abu Dhabi on 4 February 2019, Pope Francis said: ‘There is no alternative: we either build the future together or there will not be a future. Religions, in particular, cannot renounce the urgent task of building bridges between peoples and cultures.’
Religious traditions and believers can be all too guilty of focusing on differences of belief. Of greater importance, especially in this time of global pandemic, is that we seek to find commonalities in our beliefs and practices. Deepening our knowledge of diverse religious practices can contribute to us gaining a deeper understanding of our diverse world and communities. Whilst believers, such as Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists and Sikhs, may all follow different religious practices and beliefs there is a universal bond amongst religious believers through a common bond of faith. Faith can be as simple as a trust and confidence in another person or a concept. For believers, faith is trust, assurance and confidence in the will of God. A living faith is shown by service to God and a living faith involves carrying out charitable works to those in need. In the words of St Madeleine Sophie Barat ‘Your example, even more than your words, will be an eloquent lesson to the world.’
As World Religion Day 2021 approaches, can I encourage you to take some time to explore and learn about a religious tradition you may not know too much about? Can I also encourage you, no matter your religious/faith background, to be an example and consider how you can carry out charitable works at this time when so many are finding themselves in greater need? Let us begin to ‘build the future together’ by reaching out to those around us who are most in need of our help.
‘The purpose of religion as revealed from the heaven of God's holy Will is to establish unity and concord amongst the peoples of the world; make it not the cause of dissension and strife.’ Bahá’u’lláh