‘Above all, love each other deeply’ (1 Peter 4:8 NIV)
Like the majority of people in the UK I was saddened and appalled at the shooting and stabbing of the Batley and Spen MP Jo Cox, resulting in her death on 16 June 2016.
Tributes united both the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition as well as other mainstream political parties, and the President of the United States phoned the late MP’s husband Brendon to offer his condolences.
It is easy to be filled with hatred, revenge and retaliation when such an event occurs, but I am reminded of what she said in her maiden speech to Parliament:
“While we celebrate our diversity, what surprises me time and time again as I travel around the constituency is that we are far more united and have far more in common with each other than things that divide us”
Such events should not divide our local communities otherwise the perpetrators of evil and wickedness have won a victory. If there is a fight to be fought it has to be one of love against hatred of all kinds.
Brendon’s poignant words shortly after Jo’s death ring true:
“Today is the beginning of a new chapter in our lives. More difficult, more painful, less joyful, less full of love. I and Jo’s friends and family are going to work every moment of our lives to love and nurture our kids and to fight against the hate that killed Jo. Jo believed in a better world and she fought for it everyday of her life with an energy, and a zest for life that would exhaust most people. She would have wanted two things above all else to happen now, one that our precious children are bathed in love and two, that we all unite to fight against the hatred that killed her. Hate doesn’t have a creed, race or religion, it is poisonous. Jo would have no regrets about her life, she lived every day of it to the full.”
As I reflected on Jo’s death the Prayer of Saint Francis of Assisi came to mind:
Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
Where there is sadness, joy.
O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled as to console,
To be understood as to understand,
To be loved as to love;
For it is in giving that we receive;
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
It is in dying to self that we are born to eternal life.”
The Bishop of Huddersfield the Rt Revd Dr Jonathan Gibbs told a vigil in Jo’s honour at St Peter’s Church,
“There will be great feelings of anger and hurt and pain. How we handle those feelings in our own lives and in our communities will be of great importance. We are now here for each other tonight.”
As Christians we have to be here for each other all the time so that in the face of hatred may we sow love.
Father, make me an instrument of thy peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love.
Have a thoughtful week reflecting on how to sow love.