Ignatian Newsletter: 2024 - Edition #6

Ignatian Mission & Identity

Written by
Adam Calderone
Deputy Principal, Ignatian Mission and Identity

Understanding ANZAC Day Through the Lens of Compassion and Sacrifice

Every year on April 25th, Australians and New Zealanders gather to commemorate ANZAC Day. This solemn day honours the members of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) who fought at Gallipoli against the Ottoman Empire during World War I. ANZAC Day has since evolved to recognise all who served and died in military operations for their countries. Amidst the dawn services, parades, and reflective commemorations, there is a profound connection to the themes of sacrifice, service, and peace — principles deeply rooted in the teachings of Jesus.

The Story of ANZAC Day

The Gallipoli Campaign in 1915 was one of the Allies' greatest military failures and one of the most heartbreaking campaigns of World War I. Despite this, it became a defining moment for both Australia and New Zealand, shaping their national consciousness and fostering a sense of brotherhood and resilience. The day was first commemorated in 1916 and, over time, has incorporated the remembrance of all Australian and New Zealand soldiers who died in military service.

Parallels with the Teachings of Jesus

In many ways, ANZAC Day reflects the messages that Jesus imparted through His own life and death. Central to Jesus' message:

  1. Sacrifice and Love: Jesus’ ultimate sacrifice on the cross, where he gave his life for the redemption of humanity, resonates deeply on ANZAC Day. The soldiers who landed at Gallipoli and fought under gruelling conditions did so out of a sense of duty and love for their homeland. Their sacrifice laid the foundations for the freedoms enjoyed by future generations, a poignant reflection of Christ’s teachings about laying down one's life for one's friends.
  2. Service and Compassion: Jesus taught and lived a life of service, showing compassion to the marginalized and healing the sick. The ANZACs served their countries with the belief that their actions would contribute to a larger cause of peace and freedom. This service, often rendered in treacherous conditions, required immense perseverance and compassion, traits that Jesus deeply valued.
  3. Peace and Forgiveness: After His resurrection, one of Jesus' first messages to His followers was about peace. He said, “Peace be with you”. Similarly, ANZAC Day is not just a day of mourning but also a day for reflecting on the necessity of peace and the importance of reconciliation with former enemies. The spirit of forgiveness and moving forward has transformed former battlegrounds into places of shared memories and mutual respect among nations.

Reflecting on Our Actions

As we commemorate ANZAC Day, it is essential to reflect on how we embody these values in our daily lives. Are we willing to make personal sacrifices for the good of others? Do we serve our communities with compassion and without seeking recognition? How do we contribute to peace and understanding in our interactions?
This ANZAC Day, let us each reflect on how we can incorporate these enduring values into our daily lives, ensuring that the sacrifices of the past were not in vain and that we continue to work towards a world characterised by peace and understanding.

Ignatian 2024: Edition #6 Anzac Day image