The prophet Isaiah wrote, “‘The wolf and the lamb will feed together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox’ (Isaiah 65:25). When we hear those words from Isaiah, Isaiah’s vision of peace, when we hear about the wolf and the lamb feeding together; as which one do we see ourselves? Aren’t we the good guys in history? Isn’t the other side the wolf, isn’t the other side the bad guys?
Of course, those on the other side would disagree and division in the way we see history has meant that remembering history in Ireland has been something that has been divisive, something that has been used to exclude each other from history. As the years passed perceptions developed that certain sections of history belonged to one or other community. Most Protestants came to perceive the remembrance of the Easter Rising as something that concerned Catholics and most Catholics perceived Armistice Day as something that concerned Protestants.
The complexity of the history of the Easter Rising and the War of Independence was overlooked and the complexity of the history of Irishmen fighting in the British army was overlooked. Remembrance is not a simple matter and if we look again at Isaiah’s words, we see that peace is no simple matter.
‘“The wolf and the lamb will feed together,
and the lion will eat straw like the ox,
but dust will be the serpent’s food.
They will neither harm nor destroy
on all my holy mountain,”
says the LORD’
There are no winners or losers in Isaiah’s vision, no-one is written out of the story, even the serpent, the worst of creatures, has a place in the scheme of the things. Isaiah gives us a starting point for understanding what is necessary for peace—everyone must be included.
‘I will create new heavens and a new earth. The former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind’, promises the LORD. Isaiah gives us the culmination of a peace process, a day to come when all the old hatreds and enmities are set aside.
Remembering in the Bible is not about nostalgia, it’s not about digging up obscure facts, it is about who God’s people were in the present. So our remembrance is not just about the past, it is about understanding who we are now, it is about seeking a history for the future where no-one is excluded, where no-one is written out of the script.
– from the November 2014 edition of the Clonenagh Parish Newsletter