Like A Thief In The Night
"Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me" (Psalms 23:4).
Like a thief in the night, the worst terrorist attack in US history, has caught us off guard. Since the terrifying hours of the morning of September 11th, our taken-for-granted lives have been called into question. The neat assumptions that dominate our everyday lives are no longer so neat and clean. The routine evaporates and we are forced to confront the hour of the unexpected. The best-laid plans are disrupted, and we must adjust to what is new, unthinkable and fearful. We are forced to confront death. And we must adjust to the unthinkable and the fearful.
We wonder if we will have the resources we will need to meet the challenge. We wonder if we will be able to cope, emotionally and spiritually.
In this present moment we realize all too vividly that death does not meet our expectations. We are caught off guard beyond our wildest expectations.
It is at a time such as this that our faith ceases to be academic.
It is at a time such as this that our faith becomes extremely personal.
It is at a time such as this that only our faith in the unbounded love and infinite mercy of the Lord enables us to see through the dark glass of this hour.
So many questions rush through our minds! Who is to blame? What could have been done to prevent the devastation of that awful day.
Feelings abound: sadness ... loss ... guilt ... shock ... anger ... powerlessness.
There is so much to process, yet we cannot do or settle everything at once. Part of the mystery of our suffering is the need to be patient with our perplexity and our frustration.
True healing will come in time. True healing can only begin when we place this moment in the hands of Jesus, the Good Shepherd.
The circumstances of this unfathomable tragedy cannot be fully known to any of us. This we do know: that Jesus encounters us with love. This is not just a preacher's pious word. This is not just the comforting sentiment of the Church. We know this in faith, because we have the very words and ministry of Jesus to tell us so.
At this very moment, our faith allows us to hope and pray that all innocent victims who lost their lives are now in the Presence of our Savior.
At this very moment, our faith challenges us to believe that God's Mercy extends into those human situations wherein we experience death and loss.
At this very moment, our faith moves us to care for one another in this hour of pain.
What words can we offer one another in this national hour of pain to make sense of the senseless? What words can we offer to lift the cloud of meaninglessness from this moment? What words can we tolerate and allow to find a place in our hearts?
Mere words seem so empty! Mere words have a way of adding to the pain. And we find ourselves wanting to be swallowed up in silence.
Yet, we must try to offer comfort and support in some measure. We must endeavor to find words which are enfleshed and made real by our willingness -- our earnest desire -- to share the pain of one another as we grieve together.
Above all, our Faith calls us to look to that life-giving Word of God who became flesh in our midst, Jesus the Christ. This invitation comes in the words of Jesus Himself: "Come to Me, all you who are weary and find life burdensome, and I will refresh you" (Mt. 11:28).
These words are meant for us. The tragic deaths of so many have emptied our hearts of joy and filled us at the deepest level of our beings with the pain of total anguish. The burden of this hour is beyond telling. Yet, Jesus is in our midst now offering His healing touch.
What can this mean to us, really, in this crucial hour of torment? What those who are locked in pain cannot easily see is that everything can be given over to Jesus for healing.
And now we ask the inevitable burning question, "Why?" And there is no easy answer that will make all things clear. Rather than an answer to our situation, we are offered the Life, Death and Resurrection of Jesus.
Though totally innocent, Jesus suffered much. And He willingly handed everything over to the Father so that all fragments would be made whole. In the Garden of His Passion, when His sweat became blood, He turned to the Father for strength.
Here and now, in the garden of our own passion, we turn to the Father, pleading for strength.
God does not abandon us in this hour.
Our Faith enables us to say that those who were so senselessly lost are now safe in the arms of Jesus. For death does not have the last word.
This Community of Faith believes that Jesus Christ has gone through death before us; that He has conquered the evil of death so that we might have the strength to face it in our own lives.
Mary of Nazareth had a child who suffered a violent death before her eyes. She too has experienced the unspeakable sorrow of sudden bereavement. Still, we know that Jesus went through His violent death that we might live life. And the events of His death and Resurrection are a mystery that we enter into through Faith, and only through Faith.
We of the Christian Community offer this Faith by our prayerful presence. In so doing, we lean on the love of one another. Hard-pressed as our Faith may be, the solidarity of our friendship in Faith will hold us together in hope of everlasting life.
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