Whether republican or monarchist, we all seemed to have been impressed with Queen Elizabeth’s courage and dignity during her visit to Ireland last week. In spite of all the security efforts she still was a target for a possible violent attack, as was the President of Ireland, Mary McAleese who accompanied her most of the time. Yet these two women carried themselves with dignity and beauty. Just by watching the courtesy between the two women, we would never have known that they were acknowledging and regretting nearly 900 years of domination, war, oppression and then turning to make peace and harmony. Through the trip we saw how big an impact can be made by small gestures: the Queen speaking in Gaelic, honouring the dead from the fight for independence and visiting Croke Park, the scene of a massacre. All these showed that she was sincere in recognising her own country’s past and in hoping for peace in the future.
Here, in own time, was the forgiveness of Christ being lived out in public. We all have our fights and feuds – certainly not as long lived and dramatic as the “Troubles” but real none the less. Whether it be in marriage, or family, or staff room, or club or school grounds or anywhere people live with each other, disagreements happen and injustice occurs. If we allow them to fester and grow, they can seriously distort us and our relationships. If we have wronged someone, we are often reluctant to apologise because we think it may demean us – the Queen showed that isn’t so. If we receive an apology, we often can be off-hand or gauche in receiving it: the President of Ireland showed how to do it well. In this coming week, let us look for opportunities for small gestures that make for peace.
Loving God, send your Spirit of Peace into our hearts and into our lives. Following the Spirit’s wisdom may we be like Jesus and offer forgiveness to those who hurt us. Teach us the wisdom of small gestures that say much. We ask this in Jesus’ name, confident that you will hear us.
Sr Kym Harris osb