Today we remember all those who lost their lives, and those families who lost loved ones in an attack on innocent lives. I recall that Tuesday morning in 2001 as if it were yesterday. My question now is the same as it was 15 years ago; how do I make sense from a senseless act?
I often write about the need for us to change our perspective, so I found this quote by Henri Nouwen, a renown spiritual author, quite enlightening:
“Many people live with the unconscious or conscious expectation that eventually things will get better; wars, hunger, poverty, oppression, and exploitation will vanish; and all people will live in harmony. Their lives and work are motivated by that expectation. When this does not happen in their lifetimes, they are often disillusioned and experience themselves as failures. But Jesus doesn’t support such an optimistic outlook. He foresees not only the destruction of his beloved city Jerusalem but also a world full of cruelty, violence, and conflict. For Jesus there is no happy ending in this world. The challenge of Jesus is not to solve all the world’s problems before the end of time but to remain faithful at any cost.”
This is not to say that we give up; but rather that we re-frame our expectations toward realistic goals such as peace within ourselves, our families, our communities. We are asked to accept and trust in God. A trust not always easy to come by in light of the realities of the suffering in our world. How can I trust in God through all that is happening around me?
In a book entitled “Franciscan Voices on 9/11“, one of the contributors writes:
“In the scriptures, God does not say, ‘Do not fear, I will take away all the pain and struggle.’ Rather, we hear, ‘You have no need to fear, since I am with you’ and together we will make it.”
These quotes give me hope and encouragement. The wisdom of these writers encourage and challenge me to stop living in fear and sadness, rather, to take action to make a difference in our lives. We therefore need to challenge ourselves to find opportunities in our families and local community wherein we can bring about peace.
I am inspired by the then chaplain of the NYC Fire Department, Fr. Mychal Judge, OFM, who arrived at the Twin Towers shortly after they were struck by airplanes, to minister to the needs of the first responders. Fr. Mychal lost his life when the ceiling of the lobby collapsed upon him, moments before the collapse of the Tower itself. A prayer, attributed to Fr. Mychal, sums up why he did what he did; risking his life for others, and the lesson I take away from that fateful day:
“Lord, take me where You want me to go,let me meet who You want me to meet,tell me what You want me to say,and keep me out of Your way.“
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