By Bill Lewellis
Jan. 11, 2016
In "Night," Elie Wiesel’s book about the horrors of living in a concentration camp, he tells about the night a young boy was hung. He didn’t weigh enough to die instantly. He struggled for life at the end of the rope. The other prisoners were forced to watch without being able to help.
Behind him, Wiesel heard a man ask: “Where is God now?” Wiesel heard a voice within him answer, “Where is He? Here He is. He is hanging here on the gallows."
During most of my days as a priest, whenever anyone in a especially tragic situation asked me, “Where is God?” I thought of this passage from "Night."
Where is God during any person’s suffering? God is suffering, weeping with them. God was jumping from the flames, out of the 80th floor of the Twin Towers. God was crying with the parents of young children when a gunman fatally shot 20 of them at the the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown.
As God was with the Irish, Lithuanian, Slovak, Polish and Italian immigrants who were once spat upon and marginalized, so now God is with the Mexicans, Muslims, African-Americans, Hispanics and others who are rashly judged and marginalized today.
No answer we can give to this mystery is satisfactory. We still wonder. We still hurt. In my wonder, I like Elie Wiesel’s answer best.
Where was God when Jesus died on the cross? Suffering and dying with him. Where was God when the Jews experienced the tragic horrors of the Holocaust? Suffering and dying with them.
I favor this reflection so much more than the one offered in an Internet video I saw recently. It said that God is not with us because we, our culture or the laws of our land push God away.