Friday, April 13, 2007

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Thoughts towards a non-sermon. I am not preaching this week but could not help thinking about the fact that this year the Second Sunday of Easter and Yom HaShoah fall on the same day. Every year our gospel for this Sunday is about the disciple, Thomas. Every year Yom HaShoah commemorates the loss of six million Jewish persons in the death camps of Germany. The connection between the disciple who declared he had to see and touch the wounds of Jesus before he could believe the Resurrection and the millions who suffered wounding unto death by those who professed to believe that very Resurrection is startling.

Christianity claims Incarnation as a core doctrine. The blood and the body are central to our worship of God. I think, however we shy away from entering in to the woundedness of Christ's body in the world. We love so-called reality shows with more and more gore - but it is an escapist way of thinking we are involved. We sit on our couches, distanced by the camera, objectifying pain and suffering into entertainment, passive, not active.

I wonder, do we have compassion fatigue or are we inured to the suffering by the overload of our senses? How can we respond and yet not fall into despair? Am I a holocaust deny-er at some level? There is so much suffering in the world. Every continent has places where people are wounded daily by war, famine, drought, disease, exploitation, slavery, abuse, much of it caused by our own treatment of one another. Perhaps that is the reason we escape into a 60 minute TV show or a violent movie - where the suffering is contained and ends.

The collision of these two days teach us to look at the wounds of the world and see "my Lord and my God."

From on Yom HaShoah

Rabbi Yehudah Prero teaches that "Shoah is the Hebrew word for 'whirlwind.' It is the term used to described the conflagration that swept up six million Jewish souls between 1938 and 1945. A war was waged against the Jews in which unspeakable atrocities were perpetrated against a defenseless people. Men and women, young and old alike, were butchered at the hands of the accursed Nazis, may their name be eradicated for all time. Every year, on Yom HaShoah, we remember the martyrs who sanctified the name of G-d in the camps, the ghettos, and in the gas chambers.
A story is told of a unique Chanukah in Aushwitz. It was December, and a group of Jews in Aushwitz desired greatly to have a candle lit on the upcoming holiday. Obviously, there was no way the Germans would allow this to happen, and candles were impossible to come by in the camp. However, this did not deter these Jews. They saved small portions of fatty butter every day until they had enough to make a small candle. On the eve of Chanukah, they gathered in secret, a group of emaciated bodies who had given up their sole sustenance, around one rabbi. The rabbi then made the three blessings that one recites on the candles the first night of Chanukah. After the blessings were made and the candle was lit, one of the assembled approached the rabbi and asked "How could you make the third blessing? In the third blessing, we thank Hashem for bringing us to this day! How can we thank G-d for bringing us to this day while we are standing amidst horrors, death, and torture! Aren't the dead
better off than those alive?
The rabbi responded that he too questioned as to whether this blessing should be made. "However," he said, " when I looked around at the assembled crowd, I saw the glow on everyone's face, and I perceived that faith was burning bright in their hearts. I, therefore had to bless Hashem, for allowing me to live to see this assembly to martyrs who sanctify the name of G-d in public, who keep their faith
amidst the flames."

The Rev. Grant Gallup, at Casa Ave Maria in Managua, Nicaragua speaks to this concept of holding onto faith as we see and touch the wounds of the world:

"To avoid looking at the wounds of the Risen Jesus and the death of his saints is to avoid the venture of faith. " Put your finger here, and see my hands," Jesus said to Thomas. And says to us, "Put out your hand and place it in my wounded side. Do not be faithless but believing."

Timidity will keep the Christian community compliant with the movement towards zombie fascism that is taking place relentlessly in the United States, before our blinded eyes. The television and the newspapers will not show you the hands of Christ in the Holy Land today. The manufactured media events of the sports and entertainment industries will do their best to give you bread and circuses and turn your eyes away from the wounds of Jesus in all the Galilees of the Two Thirds world today, in Africa, in South East Asia, in Central America. You are bidden to make your peace with oppression and Be Nice, don't exaggerate, and stay in your place. Back to the prayer bench, back to the kitchen.

Don't avoid the wounds of Christ, don't avoid the relics of the martyrs. Kiss them, and talk about them, and talk to them. Kneel to them and sing of them. Don't celebrate King's birthday and forget his martyrdom. Don't avert your eyes from the Risen One, dazzling in his beauty, frightening in the power of his voice, the sound of a raging river in a flood. Don't avoid the flaming eyes, and the Life that is there for all. He has the keys.

John's gospel tells us at the end of the lesson for today that Jesus did many other Signs which are not written in his book, but these are written that we may believe. Jesus is today amongst us doing Signs and Wonders, breaking in to fearful hiding places and breaking out of prisons and out of lies, -- these are not yet written much, or noticed in our Murdoch managed media. But we preach--the pulpit being one of the last places where dissent is possible--we preach that you may believe that it is Jesus who is the Christ, the Heir of God and Lord of the New People, and that believing you may have life in this name."

Enter into the woundedness of the world and believe.

Badges from HERE


Saint Pat said...

Ann, this just knocks my socks off. Thank you for posting it.

Saint Pat said...

A local Jewish organization is planning a Holocaust remembrance tomorrow night, and I'm planning to go. The Rev. Gallup's comments are so right on, too.

Nina said...


Grandmère Mimi said...

Ann, I'm just getting to read this post today. How appropriate it seems after the terrible tragedy at Virginia Tech.

The story of the celebration of
Chanukah in the camp is a beautiful witness to the power of faith.

Enter into the woundedness of the world and believe.

Perfect words for this sad day.

Cecilia said...

Ann, I am absolutely horrified that Yom Ha Shoah came and went without my realizing it or noting it in worship on Sunday. S--t! Thank you for this witness.

Pax, C.