Friday, 3 April 2015

Gavrilo Princip, Jesus and me

The debate continues about Gavrilo Princip and his assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand. To what extent was that fateful shooting on 28th June 1914 in Sarajevo really the trigger for the massive outpouring of death and destruction that was the Great War 1914-1918? Historians will tell us of the multiple events, attitudes and behaviours whether national or individual that preceded the shooting, and even now the consequence of that conflict are still with us.

When I started in general practice in the small market town of Olney in 1982 there were three patients, all spinsters still living, alone, in the High Street who had never married, and indeed had never moved away from  Olney. They had lead a single life and, they told me, all thanks to the Great War.

So many British men of marriageable age died or were injured that the students of one girls' school were warned that only 10% would marry. The 1921 United Kingdom Census found 19,803,022 women and 18,082,220 men in England and Wales, a difference of 1.72 million which newspapers called the "Surplus Two Million".In the 1921 census there were 1,209 single women aged 25 to 29 for every 1,000 men. In 1931 50% were still single, and 35% of them did not marry while still able to bear children.

On a larger scale much of  the tension that has existed between various communities across Europe throughout the last 100 years dates back to decisions made during and after the Great War, with the creation of new countries such as Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia. And most agree that the impact of the treaty of Versailles created the ideal substrate for the rise of Hitler and Nazism.

All this from one event and one person's action.

And so on this Good Friday, one event two thousand years ago, preceded by centuries of events, attitudes and behaviours has had a staggering effect upon all of human history since. Millions of people in every country of the world have claimed allegiance to this one man, Jesus of Nazareth. And that once and for all, Good Friday event is the trigger and catalyst, with the stunning reality of the resurrection as confirmation of the power of the cross. To change destinies, to change human hearts, to bring peace and forgiveness and to satisfy the longings of the human soul.

So I say thank you for cross Lord. Thank you for the price you paid. And still this Jesus calls to one and all to follow him and receive mercy and a new power for living. This song reminds me of my early days as a new Christian in a Pentecostal church.







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