In Night, Elie Wiesel’s account of his Holocaust experiences, the author describes a scene in Auschwitz where a young boy was hung. Afterward, someone cried out, “where is your God now?” Upon seeing this boy on the gallows, the reply given is that, “God is there, hanging on the gallows.” The implied logic of this answer is that God, and thus hope, is dead.
This statement, for Wiesel, served as a basis for the loss of faith in God. (As I understand it, eventually, Wiesel regained his faith, though in such a way that theodicy, or the question of evil, would always be at center stage.) I understand Wiesel’s sentiments, his concerns, his pain – after all who am I to critique a Holocaust survivor’s wrestling with evil. I do, however, disagree with his conclusion.
There is no justification, no explanation that “works” for the murder of innocent children. Such things do not make sense – and they never will. If we begin with suffering, pain, and anger, we will make it no further than our beginning. We have to begin someplace else…
But I do think that the respondent (perhaps it was Wiesel) was right. God was hanging on those gallows. Moreover, our God, the Eternal, Almighty, Unchangeable, and Impassible God was shot in a primary school in Connecticut on Friday. I believe that this is true. For you see, our God is always to be found with the oppressed, the persecuted, and especially with those too weak to defend themselves from such unspeakable evil. God was there.
This does not have to make sense – it will not make sense – but it is true.
We will not find suitable answers for such terrible events. These things simply do not make sense.
BUT, I would urge you to come to this table. To receive the body and blood of our Lord – if I might be so bold – the slain carcass of Mary’s child.
These elements, this table, provide meaning for the entire world. Suffering, and such unspeakable acts of evil simply are not intelligible on their own. But these elements, this table, render suffering intelligible – it is the only thing that does so. At this table we gather and remember the suffering of our Lord, and the fact that suffering does not and will not remain always with us, but that it will be resurrected, redeemed, and that one day, it will end. At this table all suffering is encapsulated, and redeemed. This table is where hope can be found.
When you’re ready, come, and receive the medicine and antidote for our illness, and joy when none else can be found.
Will you come?