This year’s National Reconciliation Week is running from Tuesday 23 May to this Saturday 3 June. A simple definition of reconciliation is to ‘resume friendship after a time of enmity’. When reconciliation is experienced it brings healing. Yet the journey to genuine reconciliation is often difficult and painful, for there are no short cuts. It requires grace, honesty, justice and courage. It requires a willingness to place ourselves in the shoes of the other. It requires genuine remorse for what has taken place and acceptance of responsibility.
This week I read Paul Keating’s ‘Redfern Address’ during which he expresses something of the injustice inflicted upon the first inhabitants of our land. I think it is an outstanding speech. Yet the hopes he expressed almost 25 years ago are still largely unfulfilled as successive governments have attempted to address the issues of incarceration, health, education, life expectancy, and social problems with very limited success.
The challenge of reconciliation is world-wide. Whether it be long-running conflict between nations, or the breakdown of relationships within families or between people who were once friends, the need for reconciliation in the hour in which we live is indeed great.
The breakdown in human relationships is often the outworking of the breakdown in our relationship with God. Left to our own devices because we either believe that God is not interested, or that we feel we can live without reference to God, the evidence before us in every news report is that when left to our own devices humanity does a fairly poor job of running this planet.
Two thousand years ago, through the life of Jesus, God reached out to humanity in a wonderfully gracious act of reconciliation with a lost humanity. It was indeed costly – but there is always a cost to genuine reconciliation. To whom should we be reconciled? God, a family member, or a former friend? Courage is required, but the result will be well worth the pain of the process.
Senior School Chaplain