By Susan Gately - 01 January, 2016
The followers of Christ are the agents of Christian hope, says Archbishop Eamon Martin, Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland in his New Year’s Day message released today.
“Our challenge is to get out there, witnessing to hope, accompanying those who suffer, willing to make a difference,” he writes.
One of the difficulties we shall meet is indifference to God, he says, referring to Pope Francis message for the World Day of Peace today.
“Many people – even in our own families, communities, and country – are so swept away by the pace and concerns of everyday life that they have little time or space left for God and for reflection on their eternal destiny.”
“One of our tasks – and privileges,” he continues, “is to gently introduce others to the joy and hope of an encounter with our friend, Jesus. Such an encounter changes us, so much so that it is impossible to remain indifferent to the cry of the poor and the cry of the earth, our common home.”
2016, has added significance in that it marks the centenaries of the Easter Rising and the Battle of the Somme – “events which had a profound impact on the history and culture of this island,” he writes.
The commemorations will provide opportunities for us to deepen our understanding of who we are as a people and to affirm our hope for lasting peace and justice, he writes.
“We will be able to reflect on where we are as a society and on what we want to achieve for the future.”
But sadly there are still many families shouldering grief and nursing wounds that are “raw and hurting from the legacy of violence and years of unrest”.
“We have not yet found a way of acknowledging our troubled past without being tempted to control the narrative, resorting to blame and creating hierarchies of victims,” he writes.
“During 2016 we must resist being so indifferent to the other’s suffering that we engage in revisionism or false glorification of the past with its tragic loss of human life on all sides. Instead we should redouble our efforts to find safe spaces where we can genuinely hear one another’s stories and pain, and bolster friendship, mutual understanding, justice and peace.”
Archbishop Martin said that with his fellow Church leaders he was praying today that “our memories and commemorations of the past, alongside our hopes and longings for the future, strengthen our resolve to live together in harmony, trusting in the Lord, Jesus Christ in whom we find our hope, for he is ‘the same yesterday, today and forever’”.