Saturday, January 27, 2018



The embedding within my heart and memory of the SHOAH, the holocaust, was as a small child when newspapers and magazines produced photographs of the starved, wide eyed with terror survivors and of the ovens, the piles of bodies and newsreels when I was somewhat older, my heart pierced by the images of children rolling up their sleeves to show the tattooed numbers, which, bluntly ‘thinged’ them, reduced them and their elders from human persons to disposal units of slave labour and worse: disposal sub-humans.

The arrival in the city, sometimes on what in those days were called ‘tramp steamers’, meaning they were at the bottom of the shipping pile, sometimes in Third Class on less than luxurious liners, between the end of the war and as late as 1951, of so called ‘displaced persons’ from Europe was a steady flow of the traumatized, the survivors, the widowed, the orphaned, the frightened.

There being virtually no impediments for even young boys to wander around the docks we would, if one of those vessels of human sorrow was unloading the broken seeking hope, seeking life without terror, go and watch and be overwhelmed because both the reality of what caused these men, women, children to be arriving and the obvious hatred which was the core cause, our little brains could not fully comprehend.

Later in life, before becoming a priest and after, I was humbled to learn in conversation with survivors, not just Jewish Brothers and Sisters but a priest from Poland who had himself been stenciled and put in a camp, what evil truly is, what evil does and how otherwise apparently sane human beings, with power, factually ersatz power but bloody destructive nonetheless, can do to their brothers and sisters.

Elie Wiesel [tattooed as A-7713] who survived both Auschwitz and Buchenwald writes: “Never shall I forget that night, that first night in camp, which has turned my life into one long night….Never shall I forget that smoke…..{from his book NIGHT}

St. Maxmillian Kolbe did not survive, offering his own life in exchange for that of a young husband and father, who did survive.

Love is stronger than hate and is the victory, rooted for believers in God who is Love, for those who do not know Him rooted in simple faith in the foundational reality we are all human beings, each a person.

But, but, have we learned anything since the SHOAH and its six million slaughtered, since the horrors of WWII with its fifty million dead and additional tens of millions wounded, widowed, orphaned, displaced?

We live when the new normal is the violent hatred of Islamists spreading terror and death among fellow Muslims and throughout the world, when a nation ostensibly faithful to its Buddhist tradition, a religion which like Islam claims to be a religion of peace, slaughters the Rohingya and casts them out of their homeland; the new normal of not knowing when some hateful nut will plunge the world into nuclear war; the new normal when otherwise normal people elect governments which slaughter the unborn, allow the sick and elderly to be euthanized.

Today, with solemn ceremonies we make a show of remembering and honouring the victims of the SHOAH.

Yet our memory is selectively simplistic.

To remember means to learn from the remembering.

To honour the victims means never to ourselves be victimizers.

Each needs to look deep into our heart, especially those corners in shadow where lurks evil spirits of harsh judgement, rejection, hatred, a hunger for vengeance.

We need to ask Christ to purify our hearts that we exercise only the power of love, that we stop electing politicians who are anti-life, for their hands are overflowing with the blood of our brothers and sisters, blood which splashes on us each time we cast a ballot unless we choose life and vote accordingly.

73 years since.

Are we finally willing to learn?

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