“I lived in Germany during the Nazi Holocaust. I considered myself a Christian. I attended church since I was a small boy. We had heard the stories of what was happening to the Jews but, like most people today in this country, we tried to distance ourselves from the reality of what was really taking place. What could anyone do to stop it?
A railroad track ran behind our small church and each Sunday morning we would hear the whistle from a distance and then the clacking of the wheels moving over the track. We became disturbed when one Sunday we noticed cries coming from a train as it passed by. We grimly realise that the train was carrying Jews. They were like cattle in those cars. They were on their way to the death camps.
Week after week that train whistle would blow. We would dread to hear the sound of those wheels because we knew that Jews would begin to cry out to us as they passed our church. It was terribly disturbing. We could do nothing to help these poor miserable people, yet their screams tormented us.
We knew exactly at what time that whistle would blow and we decided the only way to keep from being disturbed by the cries was to start singing our hymns. By the time the train came rumbling past the church we were singing at the top of our voices. If some of the screams reached our ears we’d just sing a little louder until we could hear them no more.
Years have passed, and no one talks about it any more, but I still hear that train whistle in my sleep. I can still hear them crying out for help. God forgive me. God forgive all of us who called ourselves Christians yet did nothing to intervene.”
Today, it is the cries of aborted babies, of women and children massacred in civil, tribal and religious conflicts, of people enslaved, of the homeless and refugees that we do not hear.
God bless them and us. Who hears our cries?
(13th January 2019)
The above is challenging – but who wrote it?
Does Anybody Hear?
I found myself in danger,
I cried out in despair.
I prayed “Lord let them hear me!
Let just one person care!”
I raised my voice to heaven
as the train kept moving on.
As we passed behind the church
I could hear their worship songs.
I cried out all the louder
to the Christians there inside,
But they raised their chorus louder,
not hearing me outside.
I knew they heard the whistle
and the clacking of the tracks.
They knew that I was going to die
and still they turned their backs.
I said “Father in heaven
how can your people be
So very hard of hearing
to the cry of one like me?”
I shouted “Please have mercy!
Just a prayer before I die.”
But they sang a little louder
to the holy one on high.
They raised their hands to heaven
but blood was dripping down –
the blood of all the innocent
their voices tried to drown.
They have devotions daily,
they function in my name
And they never even realised
it was I upon that train.
“For as much as you did this
to the least of my brethren,
you did it to me.”
Related Link: Fr John’s Parish Newsletters