The beast from the east has arrived? It is snowing, the temperature is -3 and all is looking rather grey and miserable. At the moment, it is not looking picturesque and I feel sorry for the birds, who are feeding frantically from our feeding station. It will last a couple of days and slowly disappear and we’ll all get back to normal, and the news boys and girls will have to find another story to get excited about, oh I know Brexit! What about the snows of 1947 and 1963? As someone from Russia said, “Why do you have a red weather warning at -1, ours are given at -50!”
However, if we do not get the warnings and if something goes wrong, there would be a lot of blaming and finger pointing. Yes, we live in a blame culture and someone must take the rap for whatever has gone wrong. We must always cover our backs to ensure things don’t go wrong or of being accused of breaching whatever law in terms of various acts of Parliament, ranging from Equality, Racism, Ageism, Disability, Data Protection, Sexual abuse, to Religious Hatred and the list goes on. These acts have been passed because many human beings can be so cruel, vicious and simply full of hatred for those people who are different from themselves.
As we move towards the Passion and Crucifixion of our Lord, it is good to take stock and to ask ourselves, where we are in terms of our own discriminatory thoughts and ways. The question is, can we honestly say we do not feel some antagonism against certain groups of individuals or do we truly see all human beings as children of God?
In Jesus we believe God was given a human body, someone we could relate to and love. As John in his first letter says, “that we could hear, see with our eyes, look at, and touch with our hands”. (1 John1:1) Richard Rohr the Franciscan writer quotes from a Jewish philosopher Emmanuel Levinas who wrote, “the only thing that really converts people is “an encounter with the face of the other.” When the face of the other especially the suffering face is received and empathised with, it leads to transformation of our whole being. As Rohr says, “It creates a moral demand on our heart that is far more compelling than laws. Just giving people commandments on tablets of stone, (Acts of Parliament) doesn’t change the heart. It may keep us in check, but it might not soften the heart like a one to one encounter will.
We believe, by faith, that in every human being is the face of Christ, because human beings have been created by God. Yes, there are those persons who may have missed the mark, and have caused untold pain perhaps to themselves and others, yet that fact remains they are children of God and are our brothers and sisters. That for many is a very difficult truth to take on board, yet we have to accept that such people are often mentally ill or have other serious issues. Who are we to judge?
The plain fact is Jesus moved people beyond the counting blaming and punishing culture to a world in which God’s mercy makes a stand for all of us and proved the same on that first Good Friday and replaced them with grace and love.