This Easter, I discovered the real meaning of divine mercy. I also discovered that the best way to feel God’s mercy is to serve the saints with humility. And I am not alone in this discovery.
The exact theological formula of Easter isn’t what matters. Rather, for the Jews, Muslims, Buddhists and people of other faiths and no faith in particular, Easter is a time to serve society’s true saints.
Coming from a Muslim background, my Easter was a time to wash feet. On the Thursday before Easter, I had the good fortune to wash the feet of two Buddhist nuns and a Uniting Church Minister named Bill.
In a room crowded with saints lining up for their lunch, the four of us took turns in placing our feet in the water and having them washed. Bill provided the water and bucket while I provided the ceremonial Jasmine oil which all washers rubbed on their hands and faces.
One or two saints also volunteered their feet for us to wash. I personally could feel the faiz (an Arabic word connoting a kind of blessing associated with the presence of saints) radiating from the water.
It was all made possible thanks to Bill, an enterprising Uniting Church Minister from Ashfield. Bill runs the Ashfield Parish Mission, part of the Uniting Church in Australia.
But Reverend Bill Crews is no ordinary priest. He is also part of a growing ecumenical movement of people from across Sydney working under the auspices of The Exodus Foundation.
The Easter 2006 Newsletter of the Foundation reflects the involvement of people from a range of faiths all working to serve the saints of society. Amongst the volunteers are members of the Temple Emanuel congregation led by Rabbi Jacki Ninio. Jewish volunteers are especially active, and the Temple Emanuel congregation has been serving Christmas and Easter at the Exodus Foundation for over a decade.
Since November 1995, a Buddhist congregation led by Jim Teoh have been providing and serving meals at the Foundation’s restaurant in Ashfield. Food is prepared by individual members of the Buddhist congregation and includes noodles and fried rice. It is freshly prepared and cooked on site within two hours of being served. The saints just can’t get enough of it.
This Easter Saturday, the Foundation is unveiling a plaque in their Ashfield restaurant to commemorate and thank the Buddhist congregation for their 10 years of support to the community of saints.
Late last year, a friend told me about her brother who had gone missing some weeks back. He suffered from some kind of psychotic illness and lived on the streets of Sydney managing a group of other saints wiping windscreens.
Some weeks later, we had a major argument, one of those arguments male and female friends have every so often (usually when the male begins acting like a female!). A week after the argument, I was at Surry Hills meeting a colleague for lunch. I parked my car, and was approached by a saint pushing a shopping trolley with bottles of water and detergents.
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