Modern man has become so lost – so confused – so fallen from his original intention, purpose, vocation. Recently (May 26, 2014) Pope Francis, at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem gave the following reflection. It pierces to the heart:
”Adam, where are you?” (cf. Gen 3:9). Where are you, o man? What have you come to? In this place, this memorial of the Shoah, we hear God’s question echo once more: “Adam, where are you?”
This question is charged with all the sorrow of a Father who has lost his child. The Father knew the risk of freedom; he knew that his children could be lost. yet perhaps not even the Father could imagine so great a fall, so profound an abyss! Here, before the boundless tragedy of the Holocaust,
That cry – “Where are you?” – echoes like a faint voice in an unfathomable abyss.
Adam, who are you? I no longer recognize you. Who are you, o man? What have you become? Of what horror have you been capable? What made you fall to such depths? Certainly it is not the dust of the earth from which you were made. The dust of the earth is something good, the work of my hands.
Certainly it is not the breath of life which I breathed into you. That breath comes from me, and it is something good (cf. Gen 2:7).
No, this abyss is not merely the work of your own hands, your own heart. Who corrupted you? Who disfigured you? Who led you to presume that you are the master of good and evil? Who convinced you that you were god? Not only did you torture and kill your brothers and sisters, but you sacrificed them to yourself, because you made yourself a god.
Today, in this place, we hear once more the voice of God: “Adam, where are you?”
From the ground there rises up a soft cry: “Have mercy on us, O Lord!”
To you, O Lord our God, belongs righteousness; but to us confusion of face and shame (cf. Bar 1:15). A great evil has befallen us, such as never happened under the heavens (cf. Bar 2:2). Now, Lord, hear our prayer, hear our plea, save us in your mercy. Save us from this horror. Almighty Lord, a soul in anguish cries out to you. Hear, Lord, and have mercy! We have sinned against you. You reign for ever (cf. Bar 3:1-2).
Remember us in your mercy. Grant us the grace to be ashamed of what we men have done, to be ashamed of this massive idolatry, of having despised and destroyed our own flesh which you formed from the earth, to which you gave life with your own breath of life. Never again, Lord, never again! ”Adam, where are you?” Here we are, Lord, shamed by what man, created in your own image and likeness, was capable of doing. Remember us in your mercy.
Such horrors in our world can harden us, tempt us to retreat from it all. Who wants to remember such things? Who wants to recognize that it happened, and that it therefore could happen again? But we must remember, lest it will happen again. Man, who is called to beatitude, can turn to the demonic. He who is called to be defined by love, can respond with a cruelty and injustice that ought to shame even the demons of hell. We must remember.
Do we Catholics remember where we came from, and where we are called to return? Do we know the God who made us, do we hear His call in our hearts, do we see His sign made on our souls – His signature, His Cross? The world, dear friends, is forgetting! The world is running away from Him – away from God! The world is seeking food, drink and merriment – power and license – pleasures and entertainment – escape. The world is running away from God, working to evict Him from every corner of the culture, from all conversation, from all relevance, from all memory. The world is working to make God “unnecessary,” a relic of the past, a crutch for the feeble in mind and heart and strength.
I see His Church too busy, too entangled, too afraid, too much a child of these times and too little a child of the eternal God who made us. I see a famine of the living Word, I see harsh desert where there ought to be flowing streams of living water, I see a smoldering wick where there ought to be flames of holy fire.
I see a Church with too many on their knees but not in prayer! No, too many are on their knees before the idols of these times. I see a Church in need of Renewal! Reform! Life! I see too few crying to God for His saving Spirit who alone can bring us life.
Come Holy Spirit!
Kindle in us the fire of your love!