11.9.09

Peter Herbeck on September 11th


No Greater Love…
The attack on the World Trade Center brought the world face to face with the frightening reality of the mystery of evil. The horrible events of those days shattered people’s security. Why do such events strike us so deeply? Why does the presence of such evil fill our hearts with panic and fear? The events of that day present a dramatic, sobering picture of the struggle between darkness and light, between death and life. Nothing grips us so deeply. We are shaken to the core because we are forced to come face to face with our own contingent, fragile existence. And, if we are honest, we must admit the face of evil is very frightening.
Tragedies, especially of this magnitude, lead many to despair. Does death get the final word? Is the darkness stronger than the light? The stories of the heroes who faced death in the furnace of those collapsing towers bring us some hope; their heroism sheds light into the darkness. We cling to these stories, repeating them over and over again. Each time reassuring ourselves that death does not get the last word.
But why should their deaths give us hope? Weren’t they too consumed by the fire? The reason their deaths mean so much to us is that we want to believe that love is stronger than death. Their heroic love brought meaning; their blood sanctified the ground; their love shed light into the darkness. Yet, as meaningful as this may sound, it only makes sense because of the death and resurrection of Jesus. We can find light in the darkness because the light of Christ has already shown into the darkness and “the darkness has not overcome it” (Jn 1:5). Because he laid down his life for his friends, the powers of death have been broken. In Jesus, that is, in his heart, love has shown itself to be stronger than death.
In the death of our heroes we see a glimmer of light, a reflection of Jesus Christ risen, “the true light that enlightens every man” (John 1:9). Our world turned to prayer in the days immediately following the tragedy because we knew, at least for a moment’s time, that we could not answer the deepest questions of our own hearts. Only God, in the person of Jesus his Son can calm our fears: “Fear not, I am the first and the last, and the living one; I died, and behold I am alive for evermore, and I have the keys of Death ...” (Rev. 1:17-18).

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