It was nine years ago this Saturday that the attacks on the Twin Towers and the Pentagon occurred. I still remember hearing about the attacks and seeing the initial news footage. I was at the Interfaith Center at SUNY Geneseo, where I was director of campus ministry for the Newman Catholic Community. Many of the students at the college were from the Long Island area, and had family and friends who lived and worked in New York City. I remember walking down through the campus to meet with members of the administration and passing the residential buildings. Everyone was watching their televisions to find out what had happened, and many were waiting to hear if friends or family were killed. There was an incredible silence across the campus that was oppressive. We held a huge vigil that night in the auditorium, with everyone still in shock from the events of the morning.
But it was two days later at our regular Thursday Mass and dinner that our community was brought together in the Word. By that point we had all seen the shift from shock to rage coming out in the news and the call for blood from those who had perpetrated the attacks. As we came together as a community we heard the Gospel reading of the day from Luke 6:27-38.
For us those words were a clear call to remember that how we understand ourselves as disciples is most important during times of crisis, and that the call of Christ to his followers can seem counter-cultural, and sometimes even counter-intuitive. It was this passage we returned to again and again in the following year to guide our response as a community to the aftermath of the attacks.
I am especially reminded of this passage this anniversary, with the proposed Quran burning in Florida. Time has not healed much of the anger, and even other Christians are using these outrageous methods to give a "warning" to radicals. These days it seems we would do well to remind ourselves of the words of our Lord from Luke.