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The Word on the Week

Commemorations

It has become something of a mantra to pose the question, “Where were you the day they shot John F Kennedy”? I expect that for many of you reading this blog the answer is – a bright idea in your parent’s minds!

The reason his memory endures so well here in Ireland lies in his being the first Irish/Catholic to hold the Presidency. He was “our man”!

His short term at the White House commenced with the disastrous “Bay of Pigs” raid intended to free Cuba from communism. It completely misfired and with Castro gung-ho his island became available for Khrushchev’s missiles. In what became the tensest period of the “cold war” Kennedy received his baptism of fire in international relationships.

However on a personal level the pedigree of the Kennedy family, his good looks and those of his wife, ensured his popularity. There was also his way with words; “Ask not what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country” being perhaps the most quoted and least obeyed of them!

His assassination, 50 years ago by a sniper’s bullets, in the words of the Dallas mayor dawned a new era where hope and hatred collided. Sadly the collision runs on.

But JFK shares the day with C S Lewis who also died 50 years ago.

It would not have bothered Lewis one whit that the JFK ceremonies all but eradicated reference to his passing.

He had himself stepped through the “wardrobe door” and into Aslan’s (the lion who was the Christ figure) kingdom during a drive to Whipsnade one sunny morning. “When we set out I did not believe that Jesus was the Son of God, and when we reached the zoo I did.”

From his conversion he sustained a steady flow of Christian writings possibly unique in the richness of their figurative language and only ended, as he said some time before his death, “When the pictures stopped”.

Two great men who might well have reflected on the scripture, “Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption.”

(1Corinthians chapter 1 verses 26-30).

Like saintly the Countess of Huntington who said she was always glad that the text read “not many” and not “not any”! And she, they along with all the other “greats”, and us need to rely on Jesus who is our wisdom, rectitude, purity and salvation.