I always have to keep my diary close by when a new year begins.
Marked in the pages in January is Francesca’s birthday; February is John Luca’s and our wedding anniversary; followed by Mother’s Day in March. These are family moments but through bad organisation perhaps, the house insurance is due, the car insurance, road tax and the like.
And, of course, from a working perspective, the movable feast, Easter, begins in April. Yes—January, February and March can be quite hectic! Beware January, February and the warnings and Ides of March!
The “Ides of March” is the seventy fourth day in the Roman calendar, corresponding to 15th March. It was marked by various religious observances and was notable in Rome as a deadline for settling debts. (Perhaps this was the model that HMRC worked with when the financial year’s end was set for the conclusion of March, with the new financial year beginning with April. All of us who have tax returns to file will know that deadline well enough.)
But of course, in modern parlance, the Ides of March is forever associated with the assassination of Julius Caesar in 44BC, arguably the turning point in Roman History. Caesar was stabbed to death at a meeting of the Roman Senate, when as many as sixty conspirators – most notably Brutus and Cassius – were involved. According to Plutarch, a Roman seer, harm would come to Caesar on the Ides of March, and he accosted him on his way to the Theatre of Pompey with this dire warning. But Caesar was having none of it. “The Ides of March will come,” he said, an implication that he had no fear that the prophecy would be fulfilled, only to hear Plutarch’s retort, “Aye, they are come, but they are not gone.”
The dramatization of this meeting is enshrined in the words Shakespeare gives to the seer: “Beware of the Ides of March.” My English teacher would be so pleased that I can remember this!!
I have to beware of the dates in my diary but I have no seer to warn me to beware of today, or any other day for that matter. But I do know that on 15th March – and every other day – I must “beware”, not of any assassination attempt (at least, I hope not – maybe a poorly chosen hymn, to lengthy a sermon perhaps!) but to follow my conscience and to ensure I make the best of the opportunities that come my way.
In the Promulgation of World Peace by Abdu’l-Bahá these words are written:
“Turn all your thoughts towards bringing joy to hearts.
Beware! Beware! Lest ye offend any heart.”
Easter will soon be here, offering us all new life-enhancing moments and a chance to create these for others. We know about ‘turning our thoughts’ and our actions bringing joy to others by spreading the news that Jesus Christ is risen. The celebrations of Easter Day will come, this time on the 9th of April, but we should look well to each day because of the resurrection, whether it is in April (another birthday month), or the Ides of March!!
Have a lovely Easter, and may you know the joy and jubilation of Jesus at Easter and every day!!
Your friend and minister