Attacks, refugees, school shootings, marathon bombings… the list goes on. Today it is Paris, Beirut, Syria. Refugee camps in Jordan and Turkey. People showing up in Greece with literally nothing to lose, they passed the point of desperation months or even years ago.
Yesterday, it was September 11, 2001. Actually, more like 14 years ago. I hadn’t even met most of my closest friends back then, and I’d been in Colorado less than a year. Something changed for many of us that day. I still occasionally reflect on the words of a certain cardigan wearing neighbor of ours that he gave us in the days following those events:
Tomorrow, it will be somewhere perhaps closer to you or me. It might well be us, or someone we love, being held hostage in a theater just down the street from where we live. Let’s not wait until then, before we understand that the evil source behind these injustices – past, present, or future – is not the ultimate power in this world. It succeeds for a season, exhibiting what Paul labeled “the mystery of lawlessness”, but so long as the helpers come in the wake of tragedy and refuse to cease rebuilding and healing, we will never be alone in our pain.
So, today and all the days to come, may we fulfill Pope Francis’ charge to all of us non-ordained ministers. That we would animate every environment, every activity, every human relation according to the spirit of the Gospel, bringing light, hope, and the charity received from Christ to those places that otherwise would remain foreign to God’s action and abandoned to the misery of the human condition.
The evil will not win, even when it feels like it is. I struggle to believe it on days like today, as you might. We no longer have the luxury of self-serving doubts, though. The hour is late, and our character will be tested. May we each be helpers, if not in Paris, then today wherever we are blessed to be.