It has been said: Remembrance Day informs today of what we hope tomorrow will look like.
Remembrance Sunday is not just a national or a global observance. It is not just a day to remember history, to memorialize the participants in war. In Canada today there are 750,000 living veterans, 250,000 with disabilities of various forms. It’s been discovered that in any war psychiatric casualties outnumber deaths 3-1, meaning a soldier is three times as likely to become mentally injured as he is to be killed.
The incidence of PTSD, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, is not only being seen more frequently but so are its enduring effects . . . broken marriages, homeless veterans, ruined lives. War has a devastating cost.
In Israel graduating High School classes are taken to the top of the mountain called Masada and there they solemnly proclaim, ‘Never Again’. Never again a holocaust, never again will they be found defenceless.
Remembrance Day is a “Never Again” declaration. Not “never again will there be a war”, but rather “never again will the world be found defenceless against tyranny.” Two thousand years ago Jesus made this observation, “But when you hear of wars and rumours of wars, do not be troubled; for such things must happen, but the end is not yet.” (Mk13:7)
Clearly, “Never Again” is not yet. In Romans 5:7 St. Paul writes, “For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die.”
We will scarcely find a person who will be willing to lay down his or her life for a complete stranger, even though that stranger is a good person. In the military, men and women do lay down their lives for others as their training has readied them to do if necessary. They go into harm’s way with a sense of duty, even ultimate duty.
The Hebrew word ‘righteous’ that St. Paul uses can also have the meaning “innocent.” The Hebrew for ‘good’ can also have the connotation of worthy, upright or honourable. We remember and pray for honourable soldiers who give their lives for the innocent.
St. Paul says that scarcely will someone die for the innocent or righteous and perhaps for a good or upright person somebody might even dare to die. In Romans 5:8 he says, “But God demonstrates His own love towards us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” The term sinners implies those who are against God, at enmity with God.
When we were not worthy in any sense of the word, Jesus died for us. All our attempts at justice and compassion are really pictures of the compassion and justice that God offers when His Son, Jesus, lay down His life. He paid the price of our sin and in the Mass we participate, as the Body of Christ in His eternal life even as we pray for those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for us. We are strengthened to offer our lives for the sake of others in whatever way we can.
Today we remember that there is nothing glorious about war. Today we remember those who pursued hope and faced fears and carried the scars that we might live in freedom. Rest eternal grant unto them, O Lord, and let light perpetual shine upon them.