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The Word on the Week

Religion in Retrospect

Easter has come and gone and perhaps we should reflect on what an impact religion has made on the world we live in and also on ourselves.

In a popular move in Rome Pope Francis will canonise two of his predecessors. They meet their Church’s requirements and so Pope John Paul 11 and Pope John XX111 will become Saints of Rome. All this is planned for tomorrow in front of a large crowd including our Taoiseach.

On the other side of the world in Japan the Yasukuni Shrine is again in the news. It is the place where the historical imperial Japan lives on. In addition to being a war memorial it is the last resting place of 14 leaders of the Japanese war effort who were tried and executed by the War Crimes Tribunal. Their bodies were secretly enshrined there by the Shinto Priests who also continue to believe their Emperor is a deity. It’s one place where Barak Obama will not be visiting this coming week although he may not be able to prevent the Prime Minister from stirring up nationalism by going there again.

Turning from the outward trappings of religion to the inward and personal place where God meets with us as individuals. Please forgive a personal illustration as, in this area; no one can speak for another.

I was around the age of 26 when I professed faith in Jesus acknowledging him to be my Saviour from my sins. It took me by surprise as I certainly had not planned it! “He died for me” became a reality (Galatians chapter 2 verse 20).

A deeper inward joy came with the realisation that the whole ceremonial law, with its multiple offerings enabling the repentant to get right with God, exploded in majestic fulfilment at the cross.

Sinless blood had been shed for me, the sinner. God’s lamb was the offering. The law, in all its forms, had been kept by Christ removing the curse of its perpetual guilt (Galatians chapter 3 verse 13). “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free…and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery” (Galatians chapter 5 verse 1).

Easter stands as a reminder that the Christian enjoys a freedom, under Christ’s governance, that truly liberates and allows for joyful service.