Today we celebrate the real birthday of HM the Queen, so Happy Birthday your Majesty!
It’s also the 20th anniversary of the first broadcast of Fr Ted! There are two comedy series which I am willing to watch again and again; Dad’s Army and Fr Ted.
Without Fr Ted we wouldn’t have Fr Ted’s immortal line “that would be an ecumenical matter’, much quoted in the Brandes household, or Mrs Doyle’s unforgettable ” More tea Father.. ah, go on, go on, go on…” etc. Obviously I couldn’t possibly print any contribution Fr Jack had to offer. It was a glimpse into the life of a deeply dysfunctional group of people forced to live together on a remote Irish island. It was also deeply human. It’s even said to have done priests in Ireland a favour by humanising them, sadly now lost because of recent revelations of abuse. It’s good occasionally to have the edges knocked off, particularly institutions like the priesthood, there are occasions when we take ourselves too seriously, we are human after all. Fr Ted is ultimately a vulnerable character and it’s one of the characteristics which makes him human. The gospels give us a glimpse of the vulnerability of God and it is this aspect of God I find most compelling.
Those of us who were privileged to be present when Eva Schloss was with us on Sunday evening witnessed a profound and moving display of forgiveness, grace and generosity. It is hard for us living our comparatively cosseted and wealthy lives here in Chiswick to even begin to scratch the depths and horrors that life at Auschwitz under the Nazis offered. That’s why it is so important that we hear stories like Eva’s; to remind us of the horrendous depths that humans can sink to and to remind ourselves to make sure that – despite the best efforts of some quarters – we never sink to those lows again.
Ironically in the news this morning, I read about a ninety three year old former SS guard at Auschwitz about to go on trial in Germany charged with complicity in the deaths of 300,000 people. I suspect Eva would say he should be held to account for his wrong-doing but she would offer him forgiveness. Forgiveness is one of the hardest parts of trying to live a Christian life. But as the Lord’s Prayer reminds us, if we seek forgiveness for when we come up short then so, in turn, must we be prepared to forgive others. Eva Schloss is a remarkable lady; a great gift to us all from God.
With every blessing,