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The Word on the Week

A Risen People

Was there ever a battle that wasn’t a botched affair? Was there ever a military campaign that didn’t have its origins in disagreement?
As children we thought General Wolfe’s victory at Quebec in 1759 was as good as it gets until we learned of the indecision that plagued the General.
The 1916 Irish Rising, which is being lavishly commemorated this weekend, is no exception. From the outset there were countermanding orders which prevented the main Volunteer force, recruited in the country districts, from taking part. Communications were difficult between the various units. The General Post Office provided a good Head Quarters until it was blown to bits by a gunboat which sailed up the Liffey.
The absence of any plan B left the outcome never in doubt. Nor was the fate of the leaders. The additional piece of provocation, written in the Proclamation, referred to “gallant allies in Europe” namely the Germans, who were at that time slaughtering the British in large numbers, ensured a charge of treason.
The victory that the Proclamation was assured of came at the cost of many lives and introduced the gun into Irish political life in a way that recurred through most of last century. The gun does settle some disputes but leaves an aftermath of distrust which decades have not eradicated.

This weekend Dublin is again in lockdown! This time to commemorate the events of that week at Easter 1916. The city is preparing for 350,000 visitors.
There will be the largest parade ever to take place on Irish soil. 2,500 personnel of the armed forces with all the machinery of war will take part. The newspapers have printed their April 1916 front page in great detail so we have it as they saw it through their Unionist tinted spectacles of the day!
The final death roll amounted to 485 of whom about 60 were rebels and 130 British military or police. About 295 were civilians including women and children. Around another 865 were wounded.
But it was with the execution of 16 rebel leaders that public opinion turned in favour of the Rising. In particular the shooting of James Connelly. He was injured and could not stand for the firing squad so was shot strapped to a chair.
Unlike the 50th anniversary which was attended by a great number of priests and religious orders the current event seems to have overlooked them. Indeed access to the city centre cathedrals on Easter Sunday was only granted after protest and other city centre churches will have to remain closed.
It’s a far cry from the armed struggle for national independence to Jesus teaching, “If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles” (St Matthew Chapter 5 verse 41).
Jesus exemplified the call for non-resistance. He did not protest his innocence instead he was led like a lamb to the slaughter (Isaiah Chapter 53 verse 7). He even prayed for those who nailed him to the cross and that prayer was for their forgiveness. Their sins would have been laid on Jesus along with every repentant sinners’ since then.
Some of the executed leaders shook hands with their firing squad and forgave them but a much greater forgiveness, encompassing all our sins, is available from the one who died for our sins and was raised to make us right with God (Romans Chapter 4 verse 25