Friday Prayers for Egypt: Visions of Religion

Flag Cross Quran

God,

If you are the light, the good, and the pure, then it stands to reason that the closer one approaches you the more imperfections are visible. Furthermore, the accumulated wisdom in the approach to you – religion – is prone to the same exposure. Great virtue lies along your path, great vice looms a step awry.

And therefore man is a poor judge. Sometimes the deed seems obvious. Gunmen fire randomly into a newspaper office, or kill policemen guarding a church. Sometimes the act is contested. Religious leaders comment on politics, or political leaders comment on religion. And sometimes the symbol seems worthy. A president visits holiday mass, or a policeman is killed guarding a newspaper.

But in each one, God, man can find both honor or fault. Some difference stems from the choice of religion, some from the different visions of each. The path is important, God, as is the heart. Judge mercifully, but justly. May man imitate you as closely as possible.

For those who kill in your name, offended by the offense given to the revered, instill in them your own humility. For those who kill in your name, seeking retribution and reversal denied them in this world, instill in them a faith in your ordering of affairs.

For a pope who comments on politics, give him wisdom to discern reality, to speak judiciously, and to lead as a servant. For a president who comments on religion, give him wisdom to seek knowledge, to judge his limits, and to lead as a visionary.

For the symbol of state to recognize Christmas, bless intentions of unity amid accusations of politics. For the symbol of sacrifice in defense of another’s religious or irreligious voice, bless the faithfulness of duty amid uncertainties of criticism.

Should human freedom permit religious mocking? Should religious freedom permit divergence in the community?

Should Christianity stand with the powers-that-be, or simply pray for them? Does Islam need a renewal of religious discourse, or a better imitation of its origins?

God for so many the answers are obvious; for others these answers are obviously different. We are poor judges, especially in religion. Show us the light, the good, and the pure. Help us hold to conviction where our vision is true, but in our certainty show us our darkness, our bad, and our impurity.

Bless Egypt in these questions, God, as a nation may she draw closer to you. Reveal her imperfections. Give her the best wisdom in religion. Guide her on the right path. Keep her foot from slipping.

Amen.

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