For our ancestors

 … for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.    

Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.

This time of the year, approaching May 4 and 5, is the time when the memories of the war become more profound. Not that I have any personal memories of it, of course, even my parents were born after the war. But every 4th of May I remember especially my grandfather who would always demand total silence while he was listening to the news on the radio during lunch time. For a couple of minutes we were not allowed even to move, because my grandfather had to focus exclusively on the news from the radio. He had to know exactly what was happening. This profound love of the truth has left deep traces in me. He risked his life by building radios during the war, in order to hear, and pass on, the truth of what was happening. I think this is an important highlight shining forth from his life, and I cannot but follow his example in giving up everything for the truth.

Naturally he heard and saw much that he couldn’t cope with. Nearly all his Jewish family was killed in camps. This has left traces in our family too. And it’s not just me, you know: when I talk with friends about how they were raised, sooner or later the subject of the war will turn up, because our parents and grandparents do things the way they do, because that is how they were transformed by the war. When the pain is too hard to bear, there is not much we can do but close our eyes and heart, and in consequence we cannot love as much as we should. This will hurt our children too, who will then in turn hurt their children, until at some point, a child will stop closing its heart, and accept the pain.

When I was pondering this, and realizing that it is impossible to bear all the pain for it will truly kill us, then I remembered that Jesus called himself the ‘Son of man’. He wants to be the child that swallows all the pain. We can lay our burdens on him, just as Abraham laid the wood on his son Isaac, and Jesus is willing to carry it for us. Also, as children, we do not really have to let ourselves be sacrificed, because God has provided the perfect sacrifice already, and we are free.

Risen from the dead, Jesus is now the new Adam. He has become the first father of all people in new life. In him we have a father who is totally reliable and loving. There is no sin nor pain in him, He is completely open to us, and provides true warmth and tender care for his children, so that we can grow up as mature adults who will in turn also be loving to the people in our care.

My favorite piece of the Bible, the song of Zechariah, also has a comforting line about our ancestors where he prophecies that God is about to show mercy to our ancestors and to remember his holy covenant. God will never forget our ancestors, He will fulfill his plan with all humankind.

For Grandpa, with love

Did you know
My burning heart
My desire to show

What did you see
When you sat so still
Drawn back in your chair
Where nothing could kill

I saw you
My heart full of love
And I looked up
To heaven above

We shall meet again
We will both be whole
We will share the love
We kept in our soul