The First reading at Mass today, the 25th Sunday of the Year, comes from the Book of Wisdom. Again it is chosen because of the way it anticipates aspects of the Passion of the Lord, a theme of the Gospel of the day.
The godless say to themselves:
‘Let us lie in wait for the virtuous man, since he annoys us
and opposes our way of life,
reproaches us for our breaches of the law
and accuses us of playing false to our upbringing.
‘Let us see if what he says is true,
let us observe what kind of end he himself will have.
If the virtuous man is God’s son, God will take his part
and rescue him from the clutches of his enemies.
Let us test him with cruelty and with torture,
and thus explore this gentleness of his
and put his endurance to the proof.
Let us condemn him to a shameful death
since he will be looked after – we have his word for it.’
One of the shocking features of the passage is the forensic and deliberate way in which the godless plan their evil, and the way they mock and seek to diminish their victim even as they speak.
The image above is from Auschwitz, scene of barely believable brutality. It is often said that we must remember so that they be not forgotten. But we need to do more than that. We need to ensure that remembering the horrors committed against those tortured and killed there, we eschew not only the most overt aspects of the evil done at that place, but every aspect of even attitudes which (would) diminish other human beings from their God-given dignity. The Nazis lashed out against people on the basis of Faith, Colour, Nation, Politics, Sexuality: when we remember let it help us to seek to integrate and make whole the human family, to share the journey that God calls each on.
- What prejudice am I usually blind to?
- Pray: ‘Lord that I might see’
Memorial rose left in rubble of crematorium at Auschwitz II. (c) 2013, Allen Morris