Today we honour the memory of Saint Anselm. Another reluctant Archbishop of Canterbury who clashed with civil authority and spent most of his later life in exile. Anselm had a mild and gentle personality but he wouldn’t back off from conflict and persecution when principles were at stake. He died in 1109.
In these days of political correctness gone mad, it has become popular to ‘rewrite’ history. History has always been seen from a particular point of view, so that to speak of ‘the discovery of America’, for example, betrays a very one-sided view of the event. I’m sure the Native Americans who chanced upon foreign explorers on their land certainly didn’t think of themselves as being ‘discovered’.
Saint Paul does some rewriting today as he preached in the synagogue at Antioch. Being a Jew himself he shared a common history with those who heard him, but they hadn’t yet been able to read that history in a new light, the light of Christ. They read Scripture and they knew about God’s saving acts, but they didn’t know how Christ was part of those events.
Rewriting history in the light of Christ may not be such a bad idea. All of us have stories of past events, of memories cherished and of traumas endured. Seeing them in the light of Christ reveals a pattern of God’s faithfulness. I suppose it’s the difference between making sense of our lives and seeing everything as happening by mere chance. At the end of each day we might use the traditional examination of conscience to rewrite our own history. We might look for signs of God’s hand, if not in the events, then at least in our ability to make sense of them and learn from them.
God will send certain people into our lives today. They may be the same people we see every day, but today they may hold a special message for us. Certain traumas may take place in our lives today – can we hear God’s words of consolation and hope above the roar of the storm? Rewriting history is not just for the politically correct, it’s also a wonderful tool for the spiritually astute.