8 April 2022

The Blue Marble - Part 2

by Matthew Betts

"...Who made heaven and earth,
The sea and all that is in them;
Who keeps faith forever..." - Psalm 146:6


Last week, I discussed how in 1972, the astronaut Jack Schmitt took a photo of earth from the Apollo 17 spacecraft. The photo has since been called the “Blue Marble" and was taken enroute to the Moon at a distance of about 29,000 kilometres (18,000 mi). This photo is so famous that it also happens to be the most reproduced photograph ever. No human has seen that perspective in person since the photo was taken, yet most of us feel we know what the earth looks like – and it’s all because of the “Blue Marble” photo. 

In many ways, the “Blue Marble” photo connected the world like no other photo previously, but since everything has probably changed forever because the world is connected in ways unheard of in 1972. Information is at our fingertips via a computer, tablet or phone. Unfortunately, the world of war has put this connectivity into focus - especially since the war in Ukraine began. 

Saint Jude lived in a time of war: the Roman Empire was fighting on its borders all the time and by AD 43 it stretched from Britain to Syria, Israel and Egypt. The Roman Emperor at the time of Jesus's ministry was Tiberius and during the time of the Apostles' mission: Caligula, Claudius and Nero. All these emperors claimed to be more than simply human and were seen by the a lot of the populace as divine. This belief of divinity was seen as more apparent when they led their empires to the battlefield. This was just one of many clashes with Judaism and Christianity. 

Later medieval kings continued this tradition, but as Christian soldiers, they now had the divine right from God;  unfortunately it didn't always work out - in England, King Harold was killed at the Battle of Hastings in 1066 and King Richard III was killed at the Battle of Bosworth Field in 1485. King George II was the last British king to "lead" a battle but already by that point (and certainly since), national leaders stopped appearing on European battlefields. To the people at home, war was a distant battle somewhere else unless, of course, it happened to be a war between fellow countrymen (which happened now and again!). 

By World War I, it all felt a bit closer, people would actually know someone fighting out there, or photos (and then film) would show the public what was happening. By World War 2, not only did people know someone, suddenly something that was faraway was ever present on screens in the cinema via the news reels. Many of you reading this will be the last of the generations who had any connectivity to these wars because you knew/know the men and women involved in fighting or defending (for me it was my various grandparents). In 2022 and onwards, we no longer need personal connectivity, we now have screens on everything (phones, laptops, etc) ready to keep us up-to-date on what is happening in Ukraine or elsewhere. All of this information doesn't help us feel better, because, of course, we feel ever more helpless. Prayer therefore becomes important - but then it always has...

In his 'Pacem in Terris', Saint Pope John XXIII does not just address the clergy and Catholic world (which was the normal way of doing things), but also wrote to "all people of good will." He wanted the world to read it and change. The Pope explains in the encyclical that conflicts "should not be resolved by recourse to arms, but rather by negotiation". He further emphasises the importance of respect of human rights as an essential consequence of the Christian understanding of men. He clearly establishes "that everyone has the right to life, to bodily integrity, and to the means which are suitable for the proper development of life." Let us pray that the leaders in the latest conflict can do just this...and soon.

Saint Jude, is the saint of hope. Let us spread the knowledge of the Apostle Saint Jude and his Shrine - and of hope in Jesus Christ. Let us use this connectivity for good things. Please click on the links and see what you can do. Ask your friends and family to follow us on Facebook or Twitter; ask them to sign up to our quarterly newsletter; ask them to come and visit us – either online or in person. All are welcome – no one is turned away because Jude is the saint of hope in Christ. Let’s tell everyone. Let’s use the internet as a tool for spreading the Good News of Jesus Christ and of peace. 

Let us pray...

Lord God, source of every good, the ground of our being and all that we do,
receive our humble thanksgiving for all your gifts especially of peace.
May the gift of your love be matched by the generous commitment of our life

in your service. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Saint Jude, saint of Hope, pray for us. 

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