The story we tell about our past influences how we imagine the future will be. If I recall the past as being full of conflict or stress, I tend to assume that next year will be similar. Healing our memories means learning to tell a new story about our life thus far – so that we can dream of a better future.
2016 is a year when we will remember crucial events from 100 years ago. How we remember the Easter Rising and the Somme can sometimes say more about how we see the future than about the facts of historical events. The challenge is to learn from the past and not to abuse it, to honour the memory of people and not to dishonour them for our purposes. If we plunder their memory for selfish ends, we demean the best in ourselves. Only the truth will set us free.
The Christmas story is not just a nice tale about distant events, a story that the child in each of us still loves. It is a carefully crafted adult story. It says that healing in society is possible. And it says that healing will not come from a God of guts and guns but from a defenceless child. Peace will come, not from the victory of the righteous heroes but from those who love and give. Peace involves the defence of the other and not the success of me.
Our main choice at Christmas is not what presents to give. It is about the story that we tell our children so that they can hope and not just party. In the Year of Mercy, we will try to tell the Christ Child’s story about the past that speaks of forgiveness and reconciliation, hope and healing. I still believe that these are tidings of great joy for all the world in 2016
+ Bishop Donal McKeown
Notes to Editors
- Bishop Donal McKeown is Bishop of Derry
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