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Adam, Where Are You? Prophetic Pope Francis at Yad Vashem, Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem

By Deacon Keith Fournier
5/28/2014 (2 years ago)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Francis spoke with deep emotion - Never again, Lord, never again!

"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? - Pope Francis

Francis of Rome at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem on May 26, 2014

Francis of Rome at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem on May 26, 2014

JERUSALEM,Israel (Catholic Online) - On May 26, 2014, citizens throughout the United States paused and prayed, in memory of those who died in service to their Nation. They prayed together in cemeteries and houses of worship. They honored hose who sacrificially serve in her armed forces.

All such actions are honorable. They continue to reflect the goodness of the American spirit, even if such goodness seems increasingly swallowed up in our own moral decay.

However, they also touch upon a deep mystery, revealed in an existential question. Why do men and women, made in the very Image of the God of Love, continue to war with one another and commit egregious acts against the true common good?

The answer to this existential question can only be found with reference to our common human history and the continuing effects of sin and evil.

On this same day, a Prophetic Bishop of Rome named Francis, spent the day at another Memorial. There, in both word and deed, he spoke to the whole world.

This Memorial is called Yadd Vasham. It is located in the Holy City of Jerusalem. It is the official memorial to the Jewish victims of the Holocaust. It was formally established by an act of the Knesset, the Parliament of Israel, in 1953.

The name Yadd Vasham is taken from the promise made by the Lord through the Prophet Isaiah: I will give in my house and within my walls  a monument and a name  better than sons and daughters; I  will give them an everlasting name which shall not be cut off (Isaiah 56:5)

Francis prayed before a crypt filled with the ashes of the victims of this evil. He laid a wreath of yellow and white flowers at the Hall of Remembrance. Then, in a moving and prophetic gesture, Francis of Rome kissed the hands of six survivors of the Holocaust.

He did so, one by one, as he listened to their stories of survival and heard of the death of their loved ones during that dark and evil time.

Francis spoke with deep emotion, "Never again, Lord, never again! "Here we are, Lord, shamed by what man - created in your own image and likeness - was capable of doing."

Then, he repeated those words, writing them in the memorial guest book. To them he added these words:

"With shame for the fact that man made himself the owner of evil; with shame that man made himself into God and sacrificed his brothers. Never again!! Never again!! Francis. 5.26.2014."

I offer below the prophetic and powerful reflection given by Francis. At the beginning of the reflection, he paused in intentional silence to emphasize the reality which he tried to capture as he shared from his heart.

*****

The Reflection of Francis of Rome at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem on May 26, 2014

"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.

---


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