Not heaven

May 26th, 2005 | By | Category: Spirituality

Funerals always raise questions of the life to come in my mind.

If heaven awaits the righteous, what about the evil? What about the perpetrators of the awful crimes of the last century.

I believe in Hell. Even if it wasn’t in the Bible and it wasn’t in the teaching of the Church, I think I would still believe in Hell.

I would believe in Hell because of one episode of history which concluded sixty years ago this past month.

The Jewish writer, Primo Levi, describes the arrival of a train at the concentration camp, Auschwitz.

“A dozen SS men stood around with an indifferent air. At a certain moment they moved among us, and, in a subdued tone of voice, with faces of stone, began to interrogate us . . . They did not interrogate everybody, only a few: ‘How old? Healthy or ill?’ And on the basis of the reply they pointed in two different directions. . . . They behaved with the calm assurance of people doing their normal duty every day.

In less than ten minutes all the fit men had been collected together in a group. What happened to the others, to the women, to the children, to the old men, we could establish neither then nor later: the night swallowed them up, purely and simply. Today, however, we know that in that rapid and summary choice each of us had been judged capable or not of working usefully for the Reich: we know that of our convoy no more than 96 men and 29 women entered the camps . . . and that of all the others, more than five hundred in number, not one was living two days later.”

It is distressing to read Primo Levi’s account, the details are horrific.

Very many of those responsible were never brought to justice and what sort of justice could ever match such deeds?

Only by believing that there will be a Day of Judgment can I believe that God is a fair and just God and only by believing that God is just can I begin to make sense of life.

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