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The Word on the Week

Bodies on the Beach

This week we were treated by the media to bodies on the beach and they weren’t the sunbathing variety either! This was newsreels of men of the Allied Forces landing on the beaches of Normandy under sustained enemy gunfire which left half of the 6,000 soldiers dead on the sand.

It was the 60th anniversary of “The Longest Day”. A few survivors of the onslaught survived to join the participating nation’s current leaders to remember the lessons of war. Hopefully some will have learned their lessons.

At the other side of the world another commemoration was not happening!

It was the 25th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre in Beijing. The authorities studiously avoided any hint of remembrance by locking up all the artistic types and free thinkers! By contrast on the island of Hong Kong they have a freer regime. There very large crowds filled the public spaces as they remembered the un-numbered masses who were crushed to death when they brought in the tanks and had their bodies ground into the surface of the square in 1989.

Back home the naming of the 796 dead babies found in the grounds of the Bon Secours Home drew attention to the high mortality rate and unmarked graves which featured in children’s homes in the earlier part of last century.

This story went round the world when the journalists learned that some remains had been found in sceptic tank

We will now no doubt learn of a number of other such homes where, due to similar crowded conditions and the presence of infectious diseases, there would have been higher than average mortality rates. In those days we were still looking for a treatment for infections which today we see as commonplace or have been eradicated completely.

In each of the three news items those who died did not die naturally. In most cases their death would have been violent and in other cases it would have been disease.

When an infant dies the adult has the consolation of the scriptures, 1 Samuel Chapter 12 verses 22-23 where David recognises he cannot bring his son back from the dead but he can go to him.

For those killed in conflict each one had lived out his allotted life-span. No ones death took God by surprise. St Paul put it simply when preaching to the pagan worshipping Athenians. “From one man he made every nation of men that they should inhabit the whole earth, and he determined the times set for them” Acts Chapter 17 verse 26.

In the violence many would have died helping others. Some may have taken the bullet to save a comrade and in that way shown something of the sacrificial love that Jesus showed for sinners on the cross. And it’s there at the cross that forgiveness and peace are found and the battle worn and all who are weary of this world find their strength.