Holy Week & Easter 2017 (click on link to download PDF)
The Rector writes…
The fifth of the commandments given to Moses is as unequivocal as it is simple: “thou shalt not kill”. Jesus says: “do not imagine that I have come to abolish the Law of the Prophets. I have come not to abolish but to complete them” (Matthew 5:17). A prime example of what this means is provided in the context of the Last Supper where the Saviour tells his disciples: “I give you a new commandment; love one another; just as I have loved you, you must also love one another” (John 13: 34). Christian ethics flow from the essential understanding that all life is precious and that love should be the context for each individual’s journey from beginning to end. The atrocity which was perpetrated last Monday in Manchester is an affront to everything we believe about the value and dignity of the human person. God’s response to the murder of Abel – “listen to the sound of your brother’s blood crying out to me from the ground” (Genesis 4:10) – reveals the Divine reaction to the maltreatment of his little ones through the ages, and, again, it was Jesus who reminds us: “can you not buy two sparrows for a penny? And yet not one falls to the ground without your Father knowing” (Matthew 10:29).
We must hold the Manchester victims in our prayers, and beg for a change of heart in those whose minds and souls are so twisted as to plan such demonic acts. We should also be doing everything within our own power to build respect for one another, recognising a common origin in the creative imagination of our heavenly Father. In a small but significant way those of us who have the opportunity to cast our ballot in the coming General Election are being given the chance to vote for what we believe to the best path for our country at this particular juncture in its history. Of course, all modern political parties are coalitions of differing views and emphases – this makes it almost certain that whatever party we choose to support we can only do so with reservations (and it sometimes seems that all we can hope to do is to put our cross against the least objectionable of the alternatives). That being said, as Catholics we should try to support candidates who conform most closely to the values engendered by our beliefs, remembering that “politics, though often denigrated, remains a lofty vocation and one of the highest forms of charity, inasmuch as it seeks the common good “ (Pope Francis).
It has been disappointing to see the leader of one of the major political parties – who is known as an evangelical Christian – prevaricate when faced with questions about his own previously stated pro-life views. Instead of drawing a distinction between what is legally permissible in a pluralist society and a personal commitment to defend the right to life at every stage of human development, the politician, under pressure, executed a “volte face” and said that he had been wrong in ever thinking abortion a “sin”. Thank God our own Archbishop, in a subsequent interview, has spoken out for the Catholic understanding that “God-given human life is God’s own property: it is sacred from the first moment of its existence and is not under the control of any human being. ‘Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you’ (Jeremiah 1:5)”.
The Catholic moral tradition is utterly clear about what it terms “the malice of abortion”. The destruction of a human life, at whatever stage of its journey, can never be justified and is always contrary to the Divine will. But we must be measured and sensitive in the language we use, recognising that although wrong choices are made (by us all in varying degrees) no one can ever place themselves beyond the mercy of God, and that we have a pastoral duty to support those who have been through the trauma of abortion with all its destructive consequences. Cardinal Francis Konig (of Vienna) once put it in a nutshell: “people should not die by the hand of another person, but holding the hand of another person”. We could do worse than keep that thought in mind as we use our judgment in deciding how to vote on 8th June.