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Humanity: The Commonality of Every Religion

by Anonymous last modified Jul 09, 2019 05:29 AM

As I continued my journey in this side of the world, I came to realize that despite the diversity of religions, there is always a prevailing human factor that is common: the capacity to love, care and pray for each other. This insight dawned on me during my stay in my parish.


Humanity: The Commonality of Every Religion

by Elbert Balbastro

   Elbert is a Columban student who was assigned to Pakistan for two years in his First Mission Assignment (FMA).

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Being a Christian and coming to a predominantly Muslim country like Pakistan made me feel part of the minorities. There are many practices in the Philippines that cannot be observed here. I would often remind myself that as a missionary, I would miss a lot of things I had been used to, but I would need to adjust to the country where I was sent to and would have to learn to belong.

 

As I continued my journey in this side of the world, I came to realize that despite the diversity of religions, there is always a prevailing human factor that is common: the capacity to love, care and pray for each other. This insight dawned on me during my stay in my parish.

 

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Elbert with another Columban Missionary on a road in Pakistan

 

I was in exposure for three weeks in one particular village where there are schools catering to Hindu and Christian students. The area is a hodgepodge of Christian colony, Hindu Colony and Muslim families. One afternoon, I asked Master Michael, one of the teachers in the village, if he could accompany me to a Mandar, a temple, being erected near our Christian colony. It is located in the middle of the houses of Hindu families. I asked a woman if I could get a glimpse of what was inside. She replied, "Brother, this is the house of God. You are very welcome to come in.” Upon entering, I saw lots of pictures of their deities but apparently, there were no statues because theirs was a poor community. “However, what is important is our faith in God,” she added.

 

After that encounter, the father of one of my Kindergarten students invited me to his house. He asked me if I was married. He was very much surprised when I replied, "No, Janab." He asked what will happen to me when I have no one to take care of me. In my limited Urdu, I explained that being unmarried is part of our life as missionaries in a Catholic Church.  He said, “You know, brother Ji, even if you are not a Hindu nor a Parkari, you are very much welcome to visit here in our community. We are family here and I always pray to Bagwon that they may protect you.”

 

I am happy that, for the first time in my life, I met a Hindu, who, despite the differences in our religion, did not only accept and treat me like part of the family but was praying for me too.  It was a moving experience for me knowing that I am loved and prayed for, not only by fellow Catholics.

 

Indeed, every person is capable of loving and relating to others, no matter what religion or culture they have. I now reach out with greater respect to people belonging to different faiths, bearing in mind that they are just like me, capable of loving, caring and respecting others.

 

I acknowledge that there are limitations and differences in terms of culture and religions but by loving others there is unity and equality. St. Mother Teresa of Calcultta once said, “Every act of love is a work of peace, no matter how small.” As a Christian, it is my duty to love without discrimination.

 

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Elbert (3rd from right) with his friends saying their goodbyes to him

at the end of his two-year FMA in Pakistan

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