Bishop Guli's Thought for the Day



I recently heard the actor Tom Ellis interviewed about the latest series of Lucifer, the hit drama he stars in. I confess I hadn’t heard of the programme but with previous episodes still available I’ve now started watching. The premise is that Lucifer, played by Ellis, fed up with hell decides to take a vacation to Los Angeles where he meets a detective played by Lauren German. They become partners, solving a new crime in each episode. But as the drama unfolds Lucifer begins to change, apparently influenced by the mortals among whom he lives. He loses some of his supernatural powers, begins to make mistakes, and can be physically hurt, bleeding when he’s cut for example. But as he grows weaker bodily, he also gains the capacity to love and feel remorse, he develops a conscience and a desire to help others.  Depending on how you think of it, his emerging vulnerability can be seen as weakness or as strength.

Frailty of mind and body may well be shortcomings but they’re part of being human and more than that they make possible the best of what makes us human. Loving someone makes us vulnerable, open to being hurt, thereby exposing our weakness, but the capacity to love is also our greatest gift, drawing out of us compassion, kindness, empathy.

In his second letter to the Corinthians St Paul wrote of people being like clay jars, easily cracked and broken. But Christianity teaches that it is these very cracks that allow God’s light to find a way in; and indeed our light to shine out.

Contemporary society doesn’t always make it easy for us to acknowledge our shortcomings. There can be a lot of pressure, particularly on those in positions of leadership, to appear super human, with any admission of frailty seen as something entirely negative. Perhaps that’s why it’s so rare to hear public figures apologise for their mistakes or indeed take appropriate responsibility for errors of judgement. All too easily people are categorised in black and white terms, the bad vilified or cynically dragged down and the good put on glass pedestals that can all too easily get shattered.

At this time of national crisis as all kinds of leaders (political, civic and religious) make decisions at national and local level there are bound to be plenty of mistakes and errors of judgement. But perhaps we might spare a thought for those whose humanity, like ours, includes cracks from which light and goodness can also escape. 

Bishp Gui's thought for the day from 9th September (BBC Radio 4)