Another beheading…this time in a Church, a Catholic Basilica in Nice, France! At least in Herod’s situation, he ordered the deed. This time the deed was accompanied by the cry that “God is greatest”.
As John the Baptist was numbered amongst the Saints so, too, the women murdered whilst at their prayers in that Church.
In a recent review of the newly published biography of Graham Green, the English writer A.N. Wilson observes that Green had a “lifelong zest for paradox”. This struck me. In an ancient time, Jesus responded to the death of John by giving the world what we call the Beatitudes, read from Matthew’s Gospel today. Likewise, we have this horrendous attack in the context of Pope Francis recent letter, “Tutti Fratelli”, in which he proclaims a similar path in today’s language to overcome the madness of our age.
Both statements are counter cultural. Both have been and will be sneered at…
Nonetheless, millions of people have found inspiration and solace in the Beatitudes. Used often at weddings and funerals, these words continue to elicit hope and ambition as people set out on their married journey; trust that some aspects have been worked at to offer at the pearly gates.
We give thanks today for the example of the many, many, women and men who have spent their lives in bringing life and hope to our communities. Some we acknowledge, like Mary MacKillop. Others, like Dame Mary Glowrey or Eileen O’Connor will, we hope, in time be similarly recognised. Most will never have a monument, but their good works will be written in the countless hearts of millions of fellow human beings
Matthew lived and worked and preached in troubled times. Matthew’s advice, eventually written down, was to live in the spirit of the Beatitudes, not the sword. Slowly his world changed. Let us do likewise…and see the changes that make the kingdom come.