Swami (Dr) Snehananda Jyoti
“The hour is coming – in fact it is here already – when true worshippers will worship God in spirit and truth”, responded Christ while answering to a question put by the Samaritan woman at the Jacob’s well. She wanted to know what would be the proper place of worship: Jerusalem where Jews worshipped or mount Gerizim where Samaritans worshipped. In one marvelous master stroke Christ broke all the rituals. He broke the sabbath sacred to the Jews. He broke the taboo of a Jew asking a Samaritan, and that too a woman, for water. He broke many rites and rituals of his religion. His presenting non-Jews as great models of faith, brotherly and sisterly love infuriated the Jews to the point of wanting to get rid of him. His presenting God as father did not also sit well with the Jews. In fact Christians would rather ignore his calling us his friends as we may not be worthy of that consideration.
That time is coming; nay, it has already come when we need to worship God our father common to all in spirit and truth that are also common to the entire humanity. Christ, for instance, did not establish any rite. He did not establish any ritual except the one very simple ritual at the last meal or supper when he broke bread and gave to his disciples saying “this is my body”. This is a ritual in that he asked his disciples to repeat it in remembrance of him. Religions have a formative function of teaching the kingdom of God. But they often get mired in rites and rituals and obfuscate the minimum program of proclaiming the characteristics of the Kingdom of God wherein all are children of God our father in love called to worship in spirit and truth with joy.
We have all that we need where we are to worship God in spirit and truth. For this worship, we do not need to go to Jerusalem or Mecca or Kashi; we do not need to employ rites or rituals; we do not need to go to any special places of worship such as church or mosque or temple. As embodied, social beings, special places of worship can have great value if they proclaim the good news related to the Kingdom of God and form the character of the citizens of the Kingdom of God. To worship in spirit and truth all that is required is a deep awareness of the presence of God, a deep awareness of us being in God, and God being in us. This deep awareness subordinates all our interests to the primary goal of unity of humanity in union with God. When we worship in spirit and truth, we are focused on the salvation and the true freedom of the entire humanity in all its grandeur and diversity marching towards its destiny.