On Giving One’s Life

28 10 2006

A homily for Remembrance Sunday

In contemporary society, the notion of sacrifice is unpopular to have a cause to live and die for brings to mind fundamentalists, extremists, and terrorists. Our understanding of sacrifice is tainted by these dangerous individuals who seem to have such reckless disregard for life, even their own lives.

So instead of offering up our lives, we seek to preserve them, pickling ourselves with beauty products, visiting the altar-less temples of health spas, and when that fails to save us many undergo the surgeon’s knife. In this world of immortal youth, death is chased from view; confined to high walled cemeteries where the bereaved, those for whom death is no longer an anathema, go to remember. Still for the world outside those places of remembrance, death is the elephant in the room, the final taboo.

Then we have a day like today, a moment in which the rules are suspended; where the sacrifice and death are bought out from behind high walls and paraded through the streets. It is today that we remember the courage of those who gave their lives for our future, and paid the ultimate price for our freedom. And for some of us we look back on a time we cannot remember, a time when people believed in a cause, in black and white, in right and wrong.

Still for us outside these moments of remembrance, causes, and the sacrifices made on behalf of them, are dangerous shadowy rumours whispered in private meetings at the dead of night. Instead, we safe people seek comfort and convenience, far be it from us to sacrifice our security for the cause of another, let alone our lives.

However, it is ironic given our distaste of sacrifice that we end up making the greatest sacrifice of all marginalising the foreigner, oppressing the poor, denying the dispossessed their rights. So, today we remember those who sacrificed their lives for us and we receive God’s challenge to us, inviting us to stake our lives on His altar.

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