“Adam, where are you?" Can you hear it? The sound of a distraught Father searching
In a modern culture that is adrift, it is good to be reminded of the True, the Good & the Beautiful. Each week it is my humble privilege to offer one selection from an indispensable canon of essays, speeches & books which will light a candle in the darkness. It is a canon I have assembled over many years that I hope will challenge & inspire each reader. But most importantly, I hope it will remind us of what is True in an age of untruth. And if we know what is True, we are more apt to do what is Right.
He looked uncommonly grim. His face was drawn and his eyes were tired. His shoulders normally shaking with laughter or reaching out for one last embrace in the pressing crowd were now wearily slumped. Tired, heavy and sad, he looked uncommonly grim. But why wouldn’t he? Flanked by rough-hewn basalt stones, standing atop a floor carved with the names of the most hellish Nazi death camps and illuminated by the Eternal Flame flickering in a twisted, broken goblet, Pope Francis was overwhelmed.
This is Israel’s Yad Vashem. Its name is taken from the Book of Isaiah, “I will give them, in my house and within my walls, a monument and a nameBetter than sons and daughters; an eternal name, which shall not be cut off, will I give them.” (Isaiah 56:5). Yad Vashem is the living memorial to the Holocaust perched on Jerusalem’s Mount of Remembrance. It is a place to remember, a place to mourn. And in May of 2014, Pope Francis did just that.
“Adam, where are you?” (cf. Gen 3:9). Where are you, O man? What have you come to? In this place, this memorial of the Shoah, we hear God’s question echo once more: “Adam, where are you?” This question is charged with all the sorrow of a Father who has lost his child. The Father knew the risk of freedom; he knew that his children could be lost … yet perhaps not even the Father could imagine so great a fall, so profound an abyss! Here, before the boundless tragedy of the Holocaust, that cry – “Where are you?” – echoes like a faint voice in an unfathomable abyss …
Adam, who are you? I no longer recognize you. Who are you, O man? What have you become? Of what horror have you been capable? What made you fall to such depths?
Certainly it is not the dust of the earth from which you were made. The dust of the earth is something good, the work of my hands. Certainly it is not the breath of life which I breathed into you. That breath comes from me, and it is something good (cf. Gen 2:7).
No, this abyss is not merely the work of your own hands, your own heart … Who corrupted you? Who disfigured you? Who led you to presume that you are the master of good and evil? Who convinced you that you were god? Not only did you torture and kill your brothers and sisters, but you sacrificed them to yourself, because you made yourself a god.
Today, in this place, we hear once more the voice of God: “Adam, where are you?”
From the ground there rises up a soft cry: “Have mercy on us, O Lord!” To you, O Lord our God, belongs righteousness; but to us confusion of face and shame (cf. Bar 1:15).
A great evil has befallen us, such as never happened under the heavens (cf. Bar 2:2). Now, Lord, hear our prayer, hear our plea, save us in your mercy. Save us from this horror.
Almighty Lord, a soul in anguish cries out to you. Hear, Lord, and have mercy! We have sinned against you. You reign for ever (cf. Bar 3:1-2). Remember us in your mercy. Grant us the grace to be ashamed of what we men have done, to be ashamed of this massive idolatry, of having despised and destroyed our own flesh which you formed from the earth, to which you gave life with your own breath of life. Never again, Lord, never again!
“Adam, where are you?” Here we are, Lord, shamed by what man, created in your own image and likeness, was capable of doing.
Remember us in your mercy.
“Adam, where are you? Who are you?”… Can you hear it? The sound of a distraught Father searching, hungering for his lost child.
I can. And at times, it is not Adam’s name he is calling. It is mine. And, perhaps, yours.
Where are you? Who are you?
Perhaps it is time we came home to our Father’s desperately loving embrace. Perhaps it is time we became the son or daughter we are called to be.
I think so.
Tod Worneris a husband, father, Catholic convert and practicing internal medicine physician. He blogs at A Catholic Thinker.