A TIME TO REMEMBER. WW1
World War 1 began on 28th July, 1914. It lasted till 11 November, 1918. A staggering 65 million British and Allied troops were mobilized. Over 8 million died and another 21 million were injured. America joined in the war (2.4.1917) when a German submarine sank the British passenger ship, the Lusitania, which claimed 1195 lives of whom 128 were Americans.
The successful blockading of German ports by British ships severely affected the German people. Many starved from lack of food and the economy was on the brink of collapsing.. The end of hostilities was in sight . German Emperor Kaiser Wilhelm II abdicated on 9 November 1918. Two days later on 11 November the leaders of both sides met in Copenhagen and signed the peace armistice. Not much later the Treaty of Versailles was jointly signed by Germany and the Allied Forces. The harsh penalties imposed on Germany (estimated at £284 billion in today’s money) caused Germany to rebel and had something to do with the next war (1939-1945).
It is a time to remember those who fought and died for their country. Many underage soldiers were so keen to fight that they lied about their age in order to take part. Blood banks were first used during WW1 and plastic surgery was invented. Chemical weapons (poison gas) were first used in WW1. The Germans were first to use it. In retaliation the British also used it.
Most of the war was fought in muddy trenches, but one enterprising group of Allied troops soldiers dug underground tunnels to detonate mines behind enemy lines. One mine, in Messines Ridge in Belgium , detonated such a huge amount of explosives that it completely destroyed the enemy front line. The explosion was so loud and so powerful that it was heard in London by Prime Minister David Lloyd George! The war took its toll, but it was a great relief that 9 out of every 10 British soldiers survived.
They shall not grow old as we who are left grow old,
Age shall not weary them nor the years condemn.
At the rising of the sun and in the morning
We shall remember them.
For it is in remembering that we recognize the cost of war. It is in remembering that we acknowledge what we owe those who gave their lives for us. It is in remembering that we resolve to work for justice and peace.
HOW GOD LOVES
One of the loveliest passages in the Bible is in the book of Hosea. Here it is “When Israel was a child loved him. Out of Egypt called my son … I taught Ephraim to walk. I took them up in my arms.” What could be more evocative. As loving parents take their children in their arms and look after them, God embraces his people and sees to their development. God rescued his people from Egypt and looked after them in the wilderness. The story of Israel is the story of parental love. It recapitulates our care for our children . A child, to begin with, is almost totally dependent upon its parents. But as time passes the parent must entrust the child with responsibility and expect it to act wisely. Letting go is not easy. It can often be quite painful. The child can make mistakes and go astray. Like the children of Israel they can rebel . Like a distressed parent, God bitterly complains. “My people are bent on turning away from me” (11.7). But like a loving parent God continues to yearn for them. “”How can I give you up Ephraim? My heart recoils within me. My compassion grows warm and tender” (11.8). Notwithstanding his people’s ingratitude, God remains a compassionate God. Anticipating the love of God in sending his Son to save us, Hosea ends on a hopeful note (11.9-11; 13.4-8).
God’s unconditional love is also the message of the parable of the Prodigal Son. Actually it is the parable of the loving father. The father never stopped loving his son . His door was kept open.
‘When he saw him he was filled with compassion. He ran and put his arms around him and kissed him’ (Luke 15.20). The wayward son was welcomed with great rejoicing. And the father’s love didn’t stop there. It also embraced the sulking older son whom we see as the real sinner. Here is a message for all of us.
What Hosea says and what the parable tells us is one and the same thing. God loves us unconditionally. As St. Paul tells us it is while we are still sinners that Christ died for us (Romans 5.8).