Jesus said to his disciples: “To you who hear I say, love your enemies,
do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you…”
On September 11, 2001, around 7:30 am, the telephone rang. ”Have you seen the news?" my mother said on the other side of the line. Her voice trembled: "The New York City twin towers blew up. I witnessed the second airplane crash live on television! This is just horrible!" I was still groggy and half-asleep, not quite understanding what was going until I switched on the television. Then I knew the severity of the emergency. This was not a climactic scene from a Hollywood blockbuster movie. This was unbelievably REAL: All the smoke and the flames; people jumping out of the windows; the iconic Twin Towers becoming a huge pile of rubble while firefighters, paramedics and police tried to save victims. It was complete and total chaos. My heart swelled with sadness and fear. What caused this to happen?
When I later found out the attacks were planned by Bin Laden and Al Qaeda terrorists, I discounted Christ's words "love your enemies, do good to those who hate you." I didn't think they applied in this horrific situation. I'm sure other Americans thought the same way, too.....
Revenge is indeed the answer. How dare these terrorists attack us! We need to get these extremists to pay the piper! If they kill us we will kill them. Eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth. We will never allow this to happen to our beautiful country again!
How can we love terrorists who killed over 2,000 innocent Americans? How can we do good toward a sect of extremists who desire to kill in the name of God? Our country was viciously attacked, and we needed to prepare for a counterattack. No way could we sit around on our laurels and not take action. No need to bless and pray for our enemies who violently mistreated us. They don't deserve blessings.....Or do they?
Let's just say it's easier to get angry, plotting our revenge and destroying our enemy than to love. What is unique to Christianity is this idea of loving our enemies even if they kill out of jealousy and envy; kill out of spite; kill as a way to promote themselves and their agendas. We don't love the action but we can still love the person as a creation of God. Remember God allows evil in the world to strengthen our faith and our reliance on Him. We learn huge lessons from tragedy and death. We learn to better prepare ourselves for the future.
What I found so wonderful about the 9/11 attack was how the country came together. We saw a surge in religious service attendance, including Mass. We saw people donating money and volunteering in the relief effort. How interesting in a time of tragedy peoplepay more attention to those around them: people they love as well as people they may not. We are reminded how we are all brothers and sisters in Christ. Tragedy unifies us because we can all relate to the same situation or circumstances. Once the emergency goes away so does that brief unit. Life turns to normal. However, we always remember those horrific circumstances as if they happened yesterday.
Pray for the souls of the victims and their families. Pray for an end to the needless violence that overwhelms our world. Remain strong and unified as a nation under God!
This meditation was written by Jennifer Burgin. Please visit her blog: Jennifer’s Spectrum of Spirituality