Today’s meditation for the second week of Lent comes from Tomáš Halík’s Touch the Wounds. This excerpt encourages us to re-examine our understanding of different religious beliefs than our own, and to cultivate respect for different paths of understanding.
It is true that for years now I have endeavored, with respect and willingness, to study a multitude of religious paths … I know that if someone thinks or says something different from me it may simply be because they look at things from a different standpoint, from another angle, because their traditions and experience are different, because they express themselves in a different “language”—in other words, that the difference between their viewpoint and statements and mine need not in any way deny either my or their right to the truth, or call into question their or my sincerity or integrity. I also know that this awareness need not lead to cozily complaisant relativism (“Everyone is right in their own way”); rather, it can lead to an endeavor to share the experience of one’s own naturally limited horizon and broaden it through mutual dialogue in which we get to know others and ourselves better.
I have learned to respect the many different paths that people take to attain life’s final mystery. I believe that the “ultimate mystery” infinitely surpasses all the notions and names that we people associate with it. Yes, I believe in one God, the Father of all people, and I believe that no person or “religious institution” or their professionals has a “monopoly” on God. I am confident that God is the final estuary of even the most meandering of rivers: irrespective of frontiers, different religious systems, and different cultures, the paths of all those who revere the ultimate mystery of life and who seek honestly, by the light of their traditions, their yearning for truth, their conscience, and their knowledge, will eventually lead toward God.