It is hard to believe it has been 20 years since life in the United States changed forever. I have tried to think about the event in theological terms, but every time I do nothing comers to mind that is good. The only thing that I continue to ponder is the whole idea of evil and how a benevolent God who is supposed to care for His creation and his people will or cannot intervene to stop such evil people and their motives. The evildoers are supposed to be adoring and following the same God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob as we do.
So thinking of this theologically what comes to mind is the whole problem of evil in the world...not this one isolated event. The short answer to the question, at least for me is this: When God gave free will to humanity, wanting people to choose to love Him, rather than by coercion and manipulation, God had to leave his will to God's self, and because of the Fall of human beings at creation, sin and evil were unleashed as well as love. For me, rather than the event of 9/11 being some theological mystery, 9/11 is existentially a human matter. It was a political matter by people who do not feel they are in control and couch this kind of terror event as a theological matter, a Holy quest, jihad, not unlike that of the Crusades, terrorizing people to gain control of lands, money's, and affections of the people through manipulation by whatever means possible. Human will, not divine.
Bad people with intentions other than for the common good and love of humanity do bad and evil things. What I judge as Divine Will is something that benefits the safety and defense of people through the empowerment of Love and Compassion, not through manipulation and terror. Sometimes in defense of our lives we have resorted to violence and war to achieve that objective, mitigating as much collateral damage as possible. In this case, I believe my God cries along with us as we grieve such actions.
Evil people do evil things, and because of my belief in Jesus Christ, Immanuel, God with us, God is always where ever we are when we experience evil in the world. God grieved and cried as innocent people were killed that day back in 2001. I know in the deepest part of my heart, God was with them in their darkest hour.
I was at home that particular day watching the TV when they broke in the programming with a Special Report. I could not believe what I was seeing with my own eyes. I thought it was a plane that had just gotten off course due to pilot or control tower error. But then the reality sunk into my brain. I became angry, wanting immediate retribution from those who were responsible for such evil. I had no charity within me.
As I watched the aftermath of the event play out, I was scared, angry, resentful, filled with hate. I had to calm down, so I just prayed. I prayed for both the victims and the perpetrators, because this is what God wanted me to do. I started praying for retribution rather than accountability.
Then somehow through it all I began to pray for justice rather than vengeance. And I realized when those prayers came to mind, God was right there with me as well.
Where were you when the planes hit the twin towers back in 2001? What were you thinking? What did you pray for? What do you pray for today?
May God's loving presence always infect our minds and hearts in all circumstances
with His Love. PAX, Fr. Bill+