There is a little over two months before the Grand Ceremony to Celebrate the Birth of the Messiah, and I have been wondering what kinds of thoughts and feelings each and every one of you is having in your daily lives.
I spoke about it last time too, about how the Grand Ceremony to Celebrate the Birth of the Messiah is taking place for each and every one of us, for me. But it is not only for us, that is, there are also the people who attended the Provisional Ceremony to Celebrate the Birth of the Messiah or those who wanted to attend the Provisional Ceremony but were not able to for some reason, still giving thought to the ceremony. They all wondered when the actual Grand Ceremony would take place; they were all wishing to attend it. We must take in their thoughts and feelings and attend the Grand Ceremony to Celebrate the Birth of the Messiah.
I also spoke about how it is not only the people in the past, but also the people in the future who will be connected to World Church of Messiah, those who may think, “Oh, there was a Grand Ceremony to Celebrate the Birth of the Messiah! I wish I could have gone!” We must also take in their thoughts and feelings and attend the Grand Ceremony.
As I talk about this, amongst you, there may be some of you who think, “My father, grandfather or grandmother attended the Provisional Ceremony, and so together with them, I will attend the Grand Ceremony.” Of course, this is important.
But amongst all the people who did attend the Provisional Ceremony, who is the one that wants to attend the Grand Ceremony the most? Do you know who that is?
I am talking about the Grand Ceremony that takes place here on earth, the Grand Ceremony to Celebrate the Birth of the Messiah taking place this coming June 15, in this world.
When we think about who wants to attend the Grand Ceremony the most, who comes to mind first, amongst all the people who attended the Provisional Ceremony? That, of course, is Meishu-sama.
Meishu-sama is the very first person we should think of. After all, he himself is the one who held the Provisional Ceremony, so he must have wanted to hold the Grand Ceremony on this earth and be there.
It is precisely this wish and will of Meishu-sama that we must receive and with which we must attend the Grand Ceremony to Celebrate the Birth of the Messiah.
So what exactly is Meishu-sama’s will on this? What is the will of Meishu-sama, who wants to attend the Grand Ceremony to Celebrate the Birth of the Messiah? In one phrase, it is about eternal life. Eternal life.
What does this mean? As all of you know, Meishu-sama said that he would create a world without illness, poverty or conflict through the miracles of Johrei, that he would rid of all sickness throughout the world while he was on the earth and that he would live until he was 120 years old.
But this Meishu-sama, actually, came down with symptoms of a brain hemorrhage, an illness, and rather than at 120, he made his ascension almost 50 years before that at the age of 72.
So why did Meishu-sama make his ascension so early even though he said he would live until 120? Why did he have to pass away from the illness of a brain hemorrhage? We can’t simply make him out to be a liar, can we? So why did this happen?
I’ll explain the reason. At first, Meishu-sama gave us many miracles through Johrei. The purpose of that was for us to know God; for us to awaken to the existence of God, the existence of the spiritual world; and for us to walk the path toward acquiring eternal life.
For Meishu-sama, the purpose of a miracle was not just to make miracles happen. Instead, it was to increase the number of people who came to know God through those miracles. People who awaken to the fact that it is not human life but God’s life that is most important and who walk the path of acquiring eternal life—Meishu-sama wanted to increase these kinds of people.
But once we experienced a miracle through Johrei, rather than believing that God’s eternal life was important, human life became even more important. We became happy if an illness was healed; we worried when it became worse, saying we have to receive more Johrei, we haven’t been saved yet. Haven’t we been doing or saying these kinds of things this whole time?
Meishu-sama wanted us to awaken to the existence of God, heaven and eternal life, then live a life filled with joy. But because we experienced miracles unfortunately, if I may put it that way, we put more importance on the life of this world. When our physical conditions worsened, for example, we were stuck in the notion that we would be able to receive yet another miracle. In this way, we fell further and further into a world where the life of this world was all-important.
God saw this posture of ours and believed that there was no way His original purpose of our turning our hearts to Him and becoming one with Him could be accomplished. What did God do about it? He called Meishu-sama back to heaven through illness, through the brain hemorrhage, and not at the age of 120 but 72. God brought Meishu-sama back to heaven.
Everyone, this was to awaken us. If Meishu-sama had lived a healthy life until he was 120 years old, we would have put even more importance on human health. We would have been saying that illness was not good, that if you do not live until 120, it is because you had no blessings from God.
So by giving Meishu-sama the illness of a brain hemorrhage and taking his life at 72, God has posed a question to us. Which one is truly important: human life and health or God’s eternal life?
I think Meishu-sama is of the same thinking as God. I mean, Meishu-sama passed away in that manner, so wouldn’t it be so disrespectful to him if we continued saying that the most important thing is human life, that one must live until they are 120 years old?
So if we are to receive this will of Meishu-sama and attend the Grand Ceremony to Celebrate the Birth of the Messiah, we can no longer continue in the same way as we did before.
Don’t get me wrong. From here on too, we will feel highs and lows when it comes to our health, because health, no doubt, is important. I am not denying it. But what I am saying is that in the middle of those highs and lows, it would be good if you can think, even for a moment, just a sliver of a moment, “Ah, actually, what is most important is eternal life.”
We certainly suffer in this world. But rather than just doing things as we did before and only thinking that we need to prolong our lives, if somewhere in there, you can think, “Ah, Meishu-sama, too, suffered and passed away from illness, but he walked the path of true hope, the path of eternal life. That hope is within me too. From here on, I want to live going forward on this path of Meishu-sama.” You have to attend the Grand Ceremony to Celebrate the Birth of the Messiah with at least this thought clearly determined in your mind.
There is also my mother’s condition, right? All of you have been keeping her in your thoughts, and I am so grateful for this. Now, she is certainly my mother, but she is also Kyoshu-sama’s wife, a very public figure who has suffered from a brain infarction, and all of you came to know this. This means something, more than for us to just feel “I hope she gets better.” Through her condition, God and Meishu-sama must be throwing a question at us right now. What could it be?
In thinking about these things, certain thoughts came to me, which I would like to convey to all of you today.
My mother had a cerebral infarction at the age of 71. Of course, she is not someone that can be compared to Meishu-sama, but Meishu-sama, too, was 71 when he had a cerebral hemorrhage.
A cerebral infarction is a kind of stroke that happens from blockage of blood. A cerebral hemorrhage, Meishu-sama’s case, is the kind where the blood bleeds out.
In my mother’s case, the infarction occurred in the right side of her brain, which caused paralysis in her left arm and leg. For Meishu-sama, the hemorrhage occurred in the left side of his brain, which caused paralysis in his right arm and leg.
Meishu-sama is male. My mother is female.
Also, in the year that Meishu-sama had the cerebral hemorrhage, a few months after the onset, the Provisional Ceremony to Celebrate the Birth of the Messiah took place. In this year that my mother has a cerebral infarction, a few months after the onset, the Grand Ceremony to Celebrate the Birth of the Messiah will take place.
As you can see, these form pairs. Man, woman. Right side of the body, left side of the body. Blood bleeding out, blood stopping.
Don’t you wonder what this means exactly? What came to mind for me was that God’s salvation is the kind that saves everything. Does God only save men? No. He also saves women. Is only part of the body saved? No. The entire body is saved. Both the right side and the left side are saved.
And how about this. Cerebral hemorrhage and cerebral infarction are a bleeding out and a blockage of blood. Symbolically, they represent the workings of our minds—expressing, saying too much on one end, then faltering, not being able to say what you wanted to say on the other. I’m glad I said that; I shouldn’t have said that. On the flip side, I’m glad I didn’t say that; I should have said that. Our minds are always in one place or the other, expressing something or keeping it in.
The way I understand this cerebral hemorrhage and cerebral infarction is that they are symbolic of this expressing and holding back of the mind.
And while I say man and woman, it does not only mean difference in gender. Within each one of us, there are also masculine and feminine thoughts and feelings. So man and woman, masculine and feminine, the right side of the body and the left side of the body, the whole body that consists of the two, then the various workings of our hearts and minds, expressing too much, not being able to express enough—God is saying, “I have saved all of these.”
Up until the Provisional Ceremony to Celebrate the Birth of the Messiah, we may have thought that salvation was partial. But 68 years have passed since then, and now, as pairs, we see right and left, man and woman, flowing out and staying still—through them, God is showing us that everything is saved.
God is saying to us: “I am an existence that has saved your entire body and being, all the workings of your heart and mind, regardless of your gender or race—everything. Realize this before the Grand Ceremony to Celebrate the Birth of the Messiah.” This is what God wants us to realize through my mother’s condition.
Because my mother was someone in a public position, we were able to come to know this. So essentially, this cerebral infarction is something that could have happened to Kyoshu-sama or myself. But I believe my mother took on that role for our sakes.
So while we have no way of knowing the deep intention of God, together with your prayers for my mother’s recovery, I would like for all of you to receive and accept her situation as something that must be related to the salvation of all humanity, to Meishu-sama’s salvation.
Speaking of the Grand Ceremony to Celebrate the Birth of the Messiah, when it comes to the subject of Messiah and even when looking at Meishu-sama’s Sacred Word on this subject of Messiah, the word separation appears, doesn’t it?
And when we hear the word separation, as in this recent Church purification for instance, or even looking at all the things happening in the world, we put ourselves on the side of good, thinking things like “Oh, that person did such a terrible thing, so they’re going to perish,” that they and we will be separated, that those kinds of people, unfortunately, are evil and will be ruined, that we somehow made it to the side of good. We have these thoughts, don’t we?
But among us, is there anyone who can say, “I am on the side of good”? If you are asked, “Raise your hand if you are on the side of good,” can any of you actually raise your hand? Well, there may be some of you who would raise your hands with confidence, but for most, in reality, we think twice, don’t we?
Then, well, if you are asked if you are evil, you might reply by saying something like “I did something bad, so I am evil, and now I am repenting.” You may think something along these lines, right?
Okay, then in that case, if there are levels of evil—the upper, middle and lower—where do you think you fall?
You may think that since you have done such-and-such bad deed, you may be somewhere around the lower part of the middle level. Maybe you think you are in the lower part of the upper level. Or maybe you think, “Certainly, I can’t be in the worst, lowest level.”
But Meishu-sama says that “one individual is the sum total of his numerous ancestors.” He says, “People who are currently alive must know that they do not exist on their own, but they are connected to and are the extension of their ancestors.” He says we are “the extension of” our ancestors.
Being an extension of our ancestors means that we cannot be divided from our ancestors. Each one of us is not an existence called “I” to which many ancestors are linked, as if they were separate existences. That’s because the summed-up total of our numerous ancestors is this one individual, this “I.”
That being the case, we cannot say that all the things our ancestors have done are other people’s business.
I spoke a little about it before, but even the single fact that we are living today shows that we are the ones who have survived after murdering people or winning wars. That is why we are alive right now.
So each one of us must be carrying something terrible within us since we survived until today. If we were killed somewhere along the way, we wouldn’t be here, that is, within us, there must be people who have killed other people. There must be people within us who have killed many people. For we are the sum total of our numerous ancestors.
If you think about it this way, there is no doubt that we are all evil. Never mind being in the “lower part of the middle level” or whatnot. We are all in the lowest of the lowest of the low, every single one of us. There is not one person who can escape this fate.
It means our bodies carry a great deal of impurities, stains from the many sins we committed.
Now, have we purified those impurities, those stains? Have these been cleansed? Have those sins been purified?
And regarding this, Meishu-sama left his Sacred Word saying that the Lord of Atonement exists. And who is it? Jesus Christ.
Meishu-sama clearly says that Jesus is the Lord of Atonement. He clearly says that Jesus came to atone for the sins of all humankind and to save all. Meishu-sama is recognizing Jesus, the Lord of Atonement.
That means that we—sinners of the lowest of the lowest of the low—at the very least, have to have our impurities atoned for and purified, don’t we?
We say things like “I didn’t place much importance on Jesus before, but recently I have been able to do so” or “Something in me wanted to distance myself from Jesus, but in listening to Kyoshu-sama’s messages recently, I have been able to place importance on him.”
But that is not the point. We must first recognize the gravity of having placed distance between us and Jesus, even unconsciously, thinking that he didn’t have much to do with us.
I mean, why did we think that Jesus wasn’t very important or why did we distance ourselves from him even though Meishu-sama said that Jesus was the Lord of Atonement?
Why? That is because to accept the Lord of Atonement who atones for all of humanity’s sins means we would have to recognize that we ourselves are sinners. For us, there is nothing more inconvenient than this. Regardless of how much you think about it, there is no reason to proactively accept Jesus. That is why we distanced ourselves from him, either consciously or unconsciously. We must first recognize this posture of ours, this cleverly using our hearts and minds to avoid receiving Jesus.
I mean, don’t we put in a lot of effort to try to not become sinners? We talk about how these people have done something bad, so let’s not be like them, let’s do good deeds. So of course we won’t want to accept the Lord of Atonement. That is why we have had these thoughts or feelings of distancing ourselves from Jesus.
But since Meishu-sama is saying that Jesus came to the world in order to atone for all of humanity’s sins and to save all, we must first, at the very least, recognize that we are sinners. And as we are stained by sin, we must be made clean existences through Jesus the Lord of Atonement.
Until now, rather than accepting the existence of the Lord of Atonement and becoming clean, we made an effort to avoid getting stained; we tried hard to wash off the stains; we thought about various ways to remove them—maybe this time I’ll try this cleanser; next time I’ll try that cleanser—we desperately scrubbed and scrubbed to try to make ourselves clean. That was our posture of faith until now. But when we then look closely at ourselves, maybe we scrubbed so hard that our clothes are now tattered, or stains still remain that simply can’t be removed no matter how hard we try. And we try to hide those things.
But when Meishu-sama appeared at the Provisional Ceremony to Celebrate the Birth of the Messiah, he appeared dressed in complete white from top to bottom, in traditional Japanese clothing. Everyone, he came out wearing pure white clothing. Meishu-sama made the choice to dress in this kind of attire.
This definitely means something. Certainly, he must have truly wanted to relay Sacred Word had he not been suffering from the pain in his head caused by the brain hemorrhage purification, but he simply could not. Still, in one way or another, he wanted to relay his message to us members.
As such, he chose to wear all-white clothing, top to bottom. Meishu-sama’s thinking definitely went into this. What was it? “My sins have been cleansed, and I have become a spotlessly clean existence”—this was what Meishu-sama was trying to teach us.
We will be taking part in the Grand Ceremony to Celebrate the Birth of the Messiah in the days ahead, but what I was speaking about just now was the Provisional Ceremony. At the Provisional Ceremony, Meishu-sama appeared in pure white clothing. At the actual Grand Ceremony, he may be thinking about a different outfit, like something more colorful, for example.
So if we are taking part in the Grand Ceremony, we cannot do so without at least getting through the issue of Meishu-sama’s all-white appearance.
That is to say, there is nothing left for us to do but to have our sins and impurities washed away by the blood of atonement before we go to the Grand Ceremony. For Meishu-sama showed this to us by being in pure white form 68 years ago already, that is, he showed us the need to receive Jesus’s blood of atonement.
Sure thing, Christianity also preaches the same thing up until this point. Members of World Church of Messiah must go through that too of course, but then we must go to the next step where every human being is to be born anew as a child of God, as Messiah—this final and decisive salvation is symbolized by the Grand Ceremony. This is what we must have in mind when we attend.
If that is the case, we cannot attend the Grand Ceremony if we skip the part about Meishu-sama’s pure white appearance at the Provisional Ceremony. If we do skip it, Meishu-sama will tell you, “There is something you have yet to get through,” “There is something you have not accepted” or “Did you see my attire at the Provisional Ceremony?”
Well, various things happen in our lives, and when all is said and done, understanding the love of God is not an easy thing to do, right? So no matter how much we hear about it, we keep saying things like “I don’t understand,” “I have yet to experience it,” “I am not loved.” We still say these, right?
But truth be told, there is no mistake: God loves us.
In Meishu-sama’s hymn that I think many of you are familiar with, he says:
“Looking up at the sky and its vastness, / I ponder. / How immense and unlimited the grace of God is!”
Beyond the sky and still further beyond that, more than its infinite vastness, is the greatness of God’s love, the love with which He loves us.
Also, that love is not only about the vastness of the sky above. In his hymn, Meishu-sama says:
“O God, Your grace is boundless. / It is higher than the heights of the mountains / And deeper than the depths of the sea!”
God’s grace is higher than the heights of the mountains and at the same time, deeper than the depths of the sea. That boundless grace of God describes how immense the love of God is.
Still more, God is an eternal existence, so it is an eternal love. Eternal love.
Meishu-sama has also said that God’s love is not just for some people only—it is a love that loves all humanity without limit. Human love is limited, but God’s love is limitless. God loves all humanity unconditionally.
In that sense, it also means that God’s love is equal. God’s love does not show favoritism toward anyone. With His limitless love, God watches over and nurtures each and every one of us eternally.
This sounds all good and well, but what does this mean concretely? It means there is no other time that God loves us more than today, now, this very moment. God loves us the most right now, today. Isn’t that so? I mean God is the One who holds limitless love for all, equally and eternally.
You may be hoping that some day, ten, twenty years from now, you will be loved more. But it is right now—God loves us the most, each and every one of us, this very moment.
And how about tomorrow? God loves you the most tomorrow too. For God’s love is unchanging.
God is saying to us, right now, “It is I who love you the most, more than anyone else.”
And this is the love—“I love you the most, more than anyone else”—He has for all of humanity.
“How humbling it is that / You, O God, look after all human beings / Just as a father loves a child!”
As a father loves a child, God loves all human beings. It is a hymn where Meishu-sama is expressing how awe-inspiring this heart of God is.
So not tomorrow, not the day after tomorrow, not yesterday, but now of today, God is saying, “It is I who love you the most, more than anyone else. Today, I love you the most.” This is the kind of love He pours into all of us.
And yesterday too. Yesterday, the day before that, ten years ago, twenty years ago, the time we let out our first cries when we were born on this earth, God loved us. Even before we were born on earth, He loved us.
And the future too. Tomorrow, the day after tomorrow, ten, twenty years from now, for eternity, He will say, “I love you the most.” This is the kind of love with which He loves each one of us.
Have we ever even once thought that God loves us in this way?
If God indeed is saying this to us, shouldn’t we also be saying to God, “I too love You the most”? Am I wrong?
Today, God loves us the most. I am saying today, right now.
Right now, God is saying to us, “I love you the most.” To Him, we also should say, “I love You the most.”
So if God’s love for us and our love in response to Him become one, then we can become children of God, His true children.
What does this mean specifically? If put into words, it would be the Grand Ceremony to Celebrate the Birth of the Messiah. After all, to become a child of God is a cause for celebration, isn’t it?
So rather than complicating it by getting caught up in the meaning of the words or the history of the Grand Ceremony to Celebrate the Birth of the Messiah or the Provisional Ceremony to Celebrate the Birth of the Messiah, faith is, in the end, a parent-child relationship. Even in this world, everyone is made to have a parent-child relationship. After all, everyone has parents; everyone is a child of someone, no question.
If that is the case, responding to God our Father’s heart—the heart that loves us the most—with “I, too, love You the most” is the Grand Ceremony to Celebrate the Birth of the Messiah.
It seems like something simple. But just as our parent-child relationships in this world are not so simple, our relationship with God was not and is not so simple or straightforward.
To say “I love You, God” seems easy. But in reality, instead of loving God, we rejected His love, ran away from home and wanted to live on our own, didn’t we? We still do, don’t we?
Because we carried these kinds of feelings toward God, we have various issues in our parent-child relationships in this world too. We have these issues with our parents because there was something between us and God.
In order to teach us what that was, God shows us various things that look like difficulties in our parent-child relationships of this world. He is trying to teach us what went wrong in the parent-child relationship between us and God.
And don’t complicate sin or stains or impurity either. In our parent-child relationship with God, we rejected Him and wanted to live by our own power—we definitely had these kinds of postures within ourselves, didn’t we? Everyone did. Those are the things considered “sin” or “stains.”
We ran away from home and have been wandering about for a long time until today. We ran away from home, and at first, living on our own was great, wasn’t it? But at some point, every one of us hit a wall and reached a limit. God saw our situation, and now, He is extending His saving hand of love to all of us.
We ran away from home, wandered about and by now we have become mud-ridden. So we have no other choice but to accept the Lord of Atonement and be cleansed.
And not only that. The path that we of World Church of Messiah are being entrusted with is the path to be born anew as children of God. So if we can walk this path of Jesus and Meishu-sama, then those who were present at the Provisional Ceremony to Celebrate the Birth of the Messiah can participate, together with us, in the Grand Ceremony to Celebrate the Birth of the Messiah with the thought, “Ah, this was Meishu-sama’s true wish.”
You may not know this, but we have been truly, greatly blessed by God to be here now with the permission to participate in the upcoming Grand Ceremony. We are being blessed still, even now. We are being loved.
So there’s no need to wait for the Grand Ceremony to Celebrate the Birth of the Messiah. Today, now, you can think, “O God, right now, You love me the most.” God would be happy about this.
I mean, God loves us, and still, we think that we haven’t received His love yet. So if you say to God, “You love me the most right now. I, too, love You the most right now,” it would definitely make God happy.
Let us encounter, let us awaken to this love of God. Having this in our hearts, we can participate in the Grand Ceremony to Celebrate the Birth of the Messiah. It would make God happy in the truest sense. This is the kind of celebration I am wishing for.
Thank you very much.