A New Parable

As everyone knows, Sunday will be the 10th anniversary of 9/11. Two more days until Sunday, and already I feel saturated with all the media coverage surrounding that tragic day. Coverage that I could easily live without – I can still close my eyes and summon the sights, smells and pain of Manhattan on September 11, 2001 and the days following. I need no reminders.

I did read one thing this past week relating to the events of ten years ago that was welcome to me – James Martin’s Of Many Things in the current issue of America. He describes his primary experience of 9/11 to that of resurrection. Describing the time he spent working with the rescue workers at ground zero in the aftermath of 9/11, Martin writes:

In this hell I found grace. Working at the World Trade Center was one of the most profound experiences of the Holy Spirit I’ve ever had. For there I encountered an overwhelming sense of charity, unity and concord. Every person working at ground zero was other-directed. Every person was utterly unconcerned for himself or herself. There I found great kindness.

Everyone’s work, of course, was informed by the sacrifices that had been made days before by the firefighters and rescue workers who gave their lives as they raced into the burning buildings on Sept. 11. For me, it seemed as if God was offering us a new parable, the way Jesus had done for people of his time. I thought: “What is God like?” God is like the firefighter who rushes into a burning building to save someone. That’s how much God loves us. And I saw this love expressed in the charity of the rescue workers who gathered at the American Golgotha.

The pain of that day is still there for many of us who suffered the loss of family members and friends. But I thank Fr. Martin for the reminder that that day was also about God’s love. And about resurrection.