Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Love, Mercy and Forgiveness

As you are aware, it was exactly four years ago today that the worst attack in American history occurred a few hours drive from us. The heart-breaking images of the planes crashing into the Twin Towers and all the terrible aftermath will stay with us forever. Here we are, four years out, living in the constant strain of a post-9/11 world, having to now face more pain, suffering and human need by what may be the largest natural disaster in American history.

We’ve seen the evil that people can do, and the evil that nature can unleash. But we have also seen the good that people can do and how much can be accomplished when people work together for good. Even so, in the throes of so much evil and confusion, it is natural to ask where God is in all this? Some will point to the natural and human evil of this world and dispute the possibility of a Supreme Being who is good.

Christian author Philip Yancey was asked after 9/11, where is God when it hurts? He thought for a moment and then said, “I guess the answer to that question is another question. Where is the church when it hurts? If the church is doing its job – binding wounds, comforting the grieving, offering food to the hungry – I don’t think people will wonder so much where God is when it hurts. They’ll know where God is: in the presence of his people on earth” (CT, 10/23/01).

One powerful way that we answer the atheists and agnostics is the way that we live our lives. When the scoffers see us responding to the evils and ills of the world with the love and compassion of Christ, then God is made real at least for some. The way that we treat each other in the church is another sign of God’s presence in the world and in us. How we treat each other in the church is the subject of today’s gospel reading.


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