Reflection for Tuesday, June 15, 2010: 11th week in Ordinary Time.

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Authors
Tinley, Susan
Issue Date
2010-06-15
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Essay
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en_US
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Abstract
On a cold snowy night this last winter, a friend and I had dinner together after work. It was a pleasant evening of visiting about things at work and our families. After dinner we went back out in the snow for the main event of our evening together. We went to Countryside Community Church, United Church of Christ, which was quickly filling up with people of all faiths and of all ages from teens to the elderly. We found a couple of seats together and waited as the few remaining seats filled up. There was animated chatter among those present as we sat in wait. Finally the reason for all of us to be out that night appeared, an elderly Jewish woman of slight stature who had to stand on a stool at the podium. Gerda Weissmann Klein was in Omaha on this cold snowy night to talk with us about her experiences in a German death camp during World War II. She is one of the few remaining Holocaust survivors. Her story was riveting.|As she talked, I became aware of a sense of personal shame because my paternal lineage is German. My grandparents were both born in the states so it was not that I knew anyone who was involved in the attempts to annihilate the Jewish people, but the idea of sharing a heritage with those who were involved made me squirm. However, Gerda was not there to make anyone squirm with misguided shame. She was not there to share what would be a very understandable personal hatred and blame. Her sole reason for sharing her story was to plead with all of us to remember her story and the stories of her friends and relatives who did not survive and to make sure it did not happen again, not just to Jewish people again but to any group of people. She talked of ethnic cleansing in Bosnia, Kosovo, Darfur, Rwanda and most recently in Myanmar. What is it that leads one group not just to go to war with another group but to be intent on eliminating the other group? Why is it that the rest of the world can be aware of the atrocities and not put an end to them?|What was most amazing about Gerda was her lack of hatred and bitterness. I do not know what was in her heart for those who had persecuted her, her family and friends, but her talk could have gone in many different negative directions. Yet, Gerda has been an inspiration for many in relating her story and working tirelessly for tolerance and love among all peoples, the kind of love that Jesus teaches us about in today’s gospel, a love not just for those who are easy to love but for our enemies. This woman is an example for all of us when we find it difficult to forgive others as God would do.
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University Ministry, Creighton University.
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These reflections may not be sold or used commercially without permission. Personal or parish use is permitted.
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