Remembrance Sunday – and I think of my late father-in-law, Frederick Albert, whose names were given in memory of relatives who died in the Great War. That generation knew what it was to have large gaps in their family tree as many young men were struck down at the very height of their powers. I think too of my own father, who although beyond the age to be called up, volunteered to serve as Captain in the Royal Engineers, fighting in India as part of the so-called Forgotten Army. His war-time experiences were seldom mentioned in our home. Rarely did he speak of places such as Imphal and Kohima where tremendous battles were fought at great cost. The memories, I suspect, were too painful to discuss, and the experiences were not easily understood by those who had not shared them.
But there are others whom we know for whom the costs are more recent, and for whom the price continues to be paid. Those, whose lives have been forever affected by their willingness to sacrifice themselves on behalf of our country and who continue to fight with the after-effects of their loyal service whether in terms of physical injuries that all can see or the painful mental scars of PTSD that are equally real but less obvious to those who do not know. They served in places such as the Falklands, in Northern Ireland and the Gulf. Let us take a moment now to remember them with thanks, both those who came back and those who did not. It was at Kohima the words were written, “For their tomorrow, we gave our today.”
Yet all battles are costly. The spiritual ones as much as the physical ones.
Paul spoke about how he bore in his body the scars that showed he belonged to Jesus (Gal. 6:17). We who follow Christ are called, in the prayer of St Ignatius of Loyola, “to give and not to count the cost, to fight and not to heed the wounds, to toil and not to seek for rest, to labour and not to ask for any reward, save that of knowing that we do Your will.” Our enemies are spiritual and unseen, but no less deadly for all that. Our Commander in Chief is the Lord Jesus who gave up his life for us. As He Himself said, “There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (Jn.15:13) and we love Him because he first loved us (1 Jn.4:19).