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Abp Perth's Anzac Day message

Posted on: April 24, 2014 12:13 PM
Related Categories: Abp Herft, Australia

The Archbishop of Perth, the Most Revd Roger Herft AM, has issued this message for Anzac Day (25th April), as the 100th anniversary of World War I is commemorated.

Anzac Day for many Australians has become the most significant day of the year.  Shrouded in misty darkness, thousands of people gather around war memorials to wait the dawn.  The “Eternal Flame” flickers, wreaths are laid.  We enter into the silence – reaching beyond the hearts of the here and now – to the lives snuffed out on the battlefields then, now and into the future.  The haunting strains of the “Last Post” and “Reveille”, the fellowship meal the gunfire breakfast, the simple games of two-up – all of this liturgical ceremony held in the words of Laurence Binyon’s poem “For the Fallen”:

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old: 
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn. 
At the going down of the sun and in the morning 
We will remember them.

And we add, as a holy response, “lest we forget”.

And for many the pilgrimage will be made to the “Holy Land” Gallipoli where Australians, New Zealanders, French, British and others were slaughtered.

This battle, etched in the soul of our nation, somehow speaks to what we believe to be the essential character of what it is to be Australian.  Selfless sacrifice, mateship, courage to give one’s life to the cause of liberty and dignity of all, ability to smile at adversity, “she’ll be right!”.

Is there a deeper truth that is constantly being eroded from our consciousness?  Why would one look to such a bloody, hopeless place for inspiration?  It is to be found in the reality revealed in the Man from Nazareth – Jesus.  The one who lays down his life for his friends and enemies, whose haunting whisper of love from a cross echoes through the silences of hate.  The eternal flame of hope draws out the best from the worst of our lives. God calls us into a game of two-up where the coin is always a heads up for the least and the lost.

The darkness is vanquished.  The dawn awakens the soul to hope in Resurrection.  The ANZAC myth does not make sense except when it is viewed from this particular religious framework.

So we cry out “lest we forget” for the opposite of remembering is not forgetting, but dismembering, futile disintegration.

So we must remember and dare to imagine a world in which the power of God’s love in Good Friday and Easter breathes life into the ANZAC story and into the fabric of our nationhood.