“Tell the world of my great and unfathomable Mercy.”
Jesus to St. Faustina
Christmas Eve in the Jewish Quarter
Returning to the hostel from Midnight Mass, I joined two new friends from Tel Aviv, who were celebrating Hanukkah. As we raised our glass together, I could not help but think of what happened not far from this city during World War II; the systematic extermination of people, primarily Jews, but many others as well, who were deemed less than vermin.
Just prior to my arrival in Krakow, I had made an intentional trip to Dachau, a Nazi concentration camp just outside of Munich, Germany. It was a personal pilgrimage for me of which I will write more about soon. So much suffering had taken place there as a direct result of individuals choosing to commit evil against their neighbors, many of whom were Poles. Comprehension of the suffering imposed on those interned in the camps seems nearly unfathomable to people of good heart.
When confronted with evil on the magnitude of the Holocaust, it seems only natural to want to lash out at anyone that could have had the power to stop the atrocities and didn’t. Evil on this level, may cause us to question even the existence of the Creator. We might even attribute to God all the narcissistic qualities of the man who the SS hailed as their “Hitler” thus paying the man, not the Creator, homage.
In light of these conclusions, hopelessness and despair seem understandable. All that might be able to rally us through those two tunnels of darkness, would be our hearts cry for justice, but too often, this desire turns into revenge–justice at all costs, no matter what level it sinks us to. Forgiveness? For what purpose?
At a low point in my life, as I wrestled with forgiving people who injured me gravely, someone told me this:
Unforgiveness is like handing your enemy a cup of poison but instead drinking it yourself.
That was an eye opening perspective. What good was my anger doing for me? Nothing good. Forgiveness seemed impossible to me. I did not have enough Love. I was incapable of forgiving my enemy. I was suffering; not the one perpetuating the evil.
Enter Saint Faustina Kowalska
Also not far from the Jewish Quarter in this city, is a little chapel where the bones of a Polish nun, St. Faustina Kowalska, are laid to rest. Hanging above this poor nun’s tomb is the miraculous image of Divine Mercy. The painting is of the merciful God that this humble women hailed; on her knees, head lowered, prayer beads in hand.
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