“Thy Pomp Shall Soon Pass Away” 1
“EVERYONE WISHES TO BE remembered,” ‘Abdu’l-Bahá said. It was Sunday, June 23, 1912, and the sound of church bells rang out in the distance. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá commented to those gathered at his residence in Montclair: “The church bells are pealing in memory of Jesus Christ although more than nineteen hundred years have passed since He lived upon the earth.”
‘Abdu’l-Bahá contrasted Christ with an example of an “earthly conqueror”: Napoleon Bonaparte…
‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s point: “Jesus Christ established the religion of God through love. His sovereignty is everlasting. Napoleon overthrew governments in war and bloodshed. His dominion passed away.”
The same thing happened to Napoleon’s nephew, Napoleon III. He, too, had carried out a coup in France, and he too went down to defeat, at the Battle of Sedan in 1870, which established the German Empire. Bahá’u’lláh had written to Napoleon III in 1868, and the king had laughed. “If this man is God,” he said, “I am two Gods!” Then he flung the letter to the floor.
“Hadst thou been sincere in thy words,” Bahá’u’lláh wrote back, “thou wouldst have not cast behind thy back the Book of God.” ‘Abdu’l-Bahá quoted the letter to those gathered in Montclair: “Thy kingdom shall be thrown into confusion, and thine empire shall pass from thine hands, as a punishment for that which thou hast wrought. Then wilt thou know how thou hast plainly erred. . . . Thy pomp shall soon pass away.”
Tuesday, June 25, 1912
he Master was invited to breakfast at Mr Edsall’s home. When He returned home, He found a number of Bahá’í women, who had come from New York, wearing aprons and cleaning the house. These elegant ladies were washing dishes, sweeping, dusting the furniture and arranging the carpets. They did this with such love and zeal that it is beyond description. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá said:
“See what the power of the Blessed Beauty does! What might and sway, what bounty and favor is this! He has inspired these persons to serve with such sincerity and love! They are washing dishes and sweeping the room. They are serving with heart and soul.”
He bestowed great favor on one of the ladies by inquiring about her husband, Dr Cork, a prominent physician in New York. She said to the Master, ‘From the moment He met you, he has not only ceased his opposition but is now helping me to serve the Cause.’
Later ‘Abdu’l-Bahá narrated the story of the conquest of Islam in Persia and spoke about the prohibition of the drinking of wine in the Qur’án. He said:
“When the Muslims arrested the leader of the Zoroastrians and flogged him for drinking wine, under the whip he cried, ‘O Muhammad of Arabia, what have you done! What an influence you have shown!’ Now they must say, ‘O Bahá’u’lláh, what have you done! With what power You have made the proud ones the captives of love and have united the East with the West!’”
At a meeting at His home that afternoon, the Master answered many questions. Among His pronouncements was the prohibition of self-mortification. He directed that the health and strength of the body be preserved, saying that the more the physical body improves, the more it is capable of making spiritual progress.
In the evening the drawing room and adjacent rooms were filled with people. Because the friends opened the gathering with singing and playing the piano in praise of the Master, He spoke about spiritual music which can enrapture the spirit and influence spirituality. 2
Talk at Hotel Ansonia to Bahá’í Friends of New Jersey, Broadway and Seventy-third Street, New York, 16 April 1912 3
The body of the human world is sick. Its remedy and healing will be the oneness of the kingdom of humanity. Its life is the Most Great Peace. Its illumination and quickening is love. Its happiness is the attainment of spiritual perfections. It is my wish and hope that in the bounties and favors of the Blessed Perfection we may find a new life, acquire a new power and attain to a wonderful and supreme source of energy so that the Most Great Peace of divine intention shall be established upon the foundations of the unity of the world of men with God. May the love of God be spread from this city, from this meeting to all the surrounding countries. Nay, may America become the distributing center of spiritual enlightenment, and all the world receive this heavenly blessing! For America has developed powers and capacities greater and more wonderful than other nations. While it is true that its people have attained a marvelous material civilization, I hope that spiritual forces may animate this great body and a corresponding spiritual civilization be established. May the inhabitants of this country become like angels of heaven with faces turned continually toward God. May all of them become the servants of the Omnipotent One. May they rise from present material attainments to such a height that heavenly illumination may stream from this center to all the peoples of the world.
’Abdu’l-Bahá in America, 1912-2012: Calling America to It’s Spiritual Destiny
Celebrating the Centenary: The Master in America
Curated by Anne Perry
- Sockett, Robert. “‘Thy Pomp Shall Soon Pass Away.’” 239 Days in America, 25 June 2012, https://239days.com/2012/06/25/thy-pomp-shall-soon-pass-away/. ↩
- ’Abdu’l-Bahá, and Mirza Mahmud-i-Zarqani. Mahmúd’s Diary: The Diary of Mírzá Mahmúd-i-Zarqání Chronicling ’Abdu’l-Bahá’s Journey to America. Edited by Shirley Macias. Translated by Mohi Sobhani. Oxford: George Ronald, 1998. https://bahai-library.com/zarqani_mahmuds_diary&chapter=4#section93 ↩
- ʻAbduʼl-Bahá. The Promulgation of Universal Peace: Talks Delivered by ʻAbduʼl-Bahá during His Visit to the United States and Canada in 1912. Edited by Howard MacNutt. 2nd ed. Wilmette, Ill: Baháʼí Publishing Trust, 1982, 19-20. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/2#578408883 ↩