Good time to re­mem­ber Je­sus died for all

The Tatura Guardian - - People - — Brian Spencer, Min­is­ter, Tatura Unit­ing Church

It is never a good idea to de­fend Hitler. Sean Spicer, United States Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s press sec­re­tary, in try­ing to de­monise Syr­ian Pres­i­dent Bashar alAs­sad over the deadly gas at­tack near Homs, some­how found him­self de­fend­ing Hitler. How does any­one de­fend Hitler? Spicer even said that Hitler never used chem­i­cal weapons on his own peo­ple.

It was a bad move. It was very bad. It was in­ex­cus­able, ig­no­rant and dis­played a pro­found ig­no­rance of his­tory.

Spicer was wrong and later apol­o­gised, but tried to ex­plain him­self by say­ing that Hitler only used the chem­i­cal weapons in the con­cen­tra­tion camps and ‘‘not on his own peo­ple’’. Just who were these Ger­man Jews then? What does it mat­ter if they were not Ger­mans, but Poles or oth­ers?

How is it that it is some­how okay to do un­speak­able acts against other peo­ple as long as we can de­fine them as the other, not us?

Are crimes against hu­man­ity not crimes if they are com­mit­ted on other peo­ple, say peo­ple from other coun­tries — peo­ple who are not like us?

In The Age last week Rose­mary Bren­nanHer­rera wrote a let­ter to her stu­dents ex­plain­ing her res­ig­na­tion from her teach­ing po­si­tion at the Manus Is­land Re­gional Pro­cess­ing Cen­tre af­ter three years.

She wrote, ‘‘I don’t un­der­stand how such a place be­came nor­mal in the Aus­tralian psy­che.

‘‘We are, as a na­tion, less ad­mirable than we were. Noth­ing I saw as I walked from com­pound to com­pound equates to what I know of my coun­try.

‘‘What I saw was gra­tu­itously cruel, in­sen­si­tive and pun­ish­ing. It was mor­ti­fy­ing.

‘‘It is Or­wellian; Aus­tralians know we are not like that, even as we are.

‘‘No pol­icy jus­ti­fies what you have had to go through; noth­ing jus­ti­fies it.

‘‘You have borne so much that is illogical and spite­ful. You have lost so much, that you can never get back.

‘‘Our politi­cians have over­reached them­selves; they have chased votes into un­ac­cept­able ter­ri­tory . . . it will end; it must end and you will have your lives back, your chil­dren back, your stud­ies back and your pro­fes­sions back.’’

The things tak­ing place on Manus Is­land and other de­ten­tion cen­tres is only pos­si­ble if we can con­tinue to por­tray the de­tainees as the oth­ers, not our own peo­ple.

In some way we can­not name, deep down, we think they are not ‘our peo­ple’.’’

Those flee­ing the per­se­cu­tion, those en­dur­ing the hor­rors of famine, those who seek a bet­ter life; they are not our peo­ple.

We have just cel­e­brated Easter and our Jewish broth­ers and sisters have just ob­served the feast of the Passover.

Jewish peo­ple cel­e­brate the story of their ex­o­dus from slav­ery and their iden­tity as the peo­ple of God.

Chris­tians re­mem­ber the story of the betrayal of Je­sus, his cru­ci­fix­ion, death and res­ur­rec­tion.

We are called to re­flect on the na­ture of our own com­plic­ity in the darker parts of the hu­man story.

We sing ‘‘were you there when they cru­ci­fied my Lord?’’

We are also called to re­mem­ber that Je­sus died for all.

We went through a lit­tle ex­er­cise in church the other week, try­ing to un­pack what we mean when we write ‘‘all are wel­come’’ at the end of each an­nounce­ment of this or that event in the life of our church.

It was a lot of fun and a bit con­fronting as we con­sid­ered just who all in­cluded.

All means all. There is no them. There is only us.

‘‘For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that ev­ery­one who be­lieves in him may not per­ish but may have eter­nal life.’’

This is the gospel, and it’s good news.

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