Tomorrow will be 9/12. Business as usual.
I suppose for most of ancient Rome, and ancient Jerusalem for that matter, it was business as usual right after Jesus’ Crucifixion. And like so many Catholics, who see nothing in Christmas or Easter but a once a year family tradition, merely ceremonial in nature, so, too, do so many Americans see 9/11 as just a sad date in history.
But they’re missing the point. For just as Christmas and Easter are spiritual wellsprings which lead a person to the life of Christ, so too 9/11, in a respectfully smaller way, is a wellspring of American living in the solidarity of compassion and hope which is truly Cruciform in nature.
For Christmas points us to Immanuel. God with us! It points to the kenosis of Christ, God’s ultra-humble self-sacrificial love, to the point of becoming one with us, except for sin. Easter, moreover, points to the Cross. ‘God so loved the world…’ that he endured that! And God, who is Love, overcame that! in the Resurrection and the Life.
9/11 also points to the Cross.
Those men and women who died in the Twin Towers died participating in a worthy experiment. The worthy human experiment called the experience of American freedom. In a way, they are martyrs to freedom. The cops and firefighters and EMS rescuers who died, willingly gave their life as the Good Samaritan. And the Good Samaritan participates in the Paschal Mystery. And let’s not forget the brave men and women who took the plane down in Shanksville, PA. The heroes of Flight 93 demonstrated a love of country that was a Maximillian-Kolbe-like-sacrifice in nature.
No, I am not canonizing anyone here.
What I am stating here is that in ordinary American life, just as it is true in the Church’s liturgical ‘ordinary time,’ extraordinary acts of love occur. Sanctity isn’t just for ‘saints.’ It is for everyone to participate in, and become.
Similarly, so is the Cross.
But 9/11 isn’t a holiday of happiness without a dose of reality added to the Cruciform perspective. For far too many Catholics ignore the Cross, preferring images of shiny Jesus in a beautiful rose garden surrounding the empty tomb. Yes! Easter is our hope. And beautiful it is. But that is to come. And what we have here and now is the Cruciform, Paschal Mystery of Life.
Therefore, 9/11 lessons abound.
We have learned that the national ‘kumbaya’ moment is short lived. We have learned that the Judeo-Christian vacuum set up by lukewarm Catholicism, and Christianity, has been ably filled by progressivism and the culture of death. We have learned that Islam can be very, very radical. We have learned that mini-9/11’s can occur at any time and any place. We have learned that the power to do evil thrives within this world.
But hopefully we have learned more.
‘The gates of hell’ have not prevailed against the Church. Faithful Catholics and Christians still fight ‘the good fight’ in America today. ‘God is good all the time.’ And, as witnessed by today’s memorial, and the rebuilding of the Twin-Tower complex, the spirit of the great American experiment in freedom is still alive.
Though Crucified, and seemingly defeated, Christ foresaw the Resurrection unto glory. He persevered, therefore, out of Love for us. 9/11 can be seen, if we choose to believe, to be that foresight into a new resurrection of the American experience of freedom.
But there must be Love.