Good Friday 2020
While we were still able to gather I showed the film Beyond Right and Wrong, subtitled Stories of Justice and Forgiveness to start our Lent reflection. Those of you who saw it found it powerful and thought provoking. I had planned three meetings for discussion but in the event only one was possible.
Many of you will not have seen the film. It is harrowing but I believe it is worth watching and I can give people details of where to find it. I also have a DVD that I can lend to people. In short the film traces people whose lives have been completely changed by devastating loss, they speak of their contrasting responses and the need for forgiveness. Northern Ireland, Rwanda and Palestine were the areas of conflict examined. The relationship that has built up between Jo Berry the daughter of Sir Anthony Berry killed by the IRA in the Brighton bombings and one of the perpetrators of the crime Pat McGee was explored. We saw and heard a mother who lost five children and a young man who lost over fifty family members in the senseless slaughter in Rwanda. In Palestine a young Jewish father whose daughter was killed in a bombing sought to understand and eventually to support the plight of the Palestinians. These stories are not necessarily the norm but they point to a powerful and moving engagement between people who have sought to understand one another.
I have seen this film a number of times and it continues to move me. Most recently what struck me was the need for people to try and understand the point of view of their adversary. It was not necessary for Jo Berry to agree with Pat McGee but it was helpful to try and understand. Stories need to be told but perhaps more importantly they need to be heard too. An Israeli who lost his daughter during the intifada acknowledges that at that moment he life was changed; one of his responses was to ask himself, “What can I do?” Later in the film he admits that although he was in his fifth decade he had never met a Palestinian on equal terms, something he sought to rectify.
These stories of meeting and understanding remind us of the wellknown passage from the epistle to the Philippians often read during Holy Week.
Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did nor regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness; And being found in human form, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death – even death on a cross.
The mystery of the Incarnation and the message of Jesus’s crucifixion that we meditate on today reminds us that just as God made himself vulnerable to fully understand and be with us as human creatures so we need to listen and to try to understand and be available to others. When we become before God in openness and honesty for our lives, the story is known, received, heard and forgiven. That is what today is about.
Our lives and our stories are essential to understanding ourselves and others and yet they are absorbed by the love of God. The film ended with these words spoken by Denis Bradley, a writer from Northern Ireland
“When all the other extremities are passed away and you go beyond the story to where there is nothing left but two people and you feel that what you are meeting is the other person then I think, reconciliation, forgiveness, bonding and even love begin to happen.”