Jesus spoke to them in parables, saying, “Which one of you, having a hundred sheep and losing one, does not leave the ninety-nine and go after the one that is lost until he finds it?…Or what woman having ten silver coins, if she loses one, does not light a lamp, sweep the house, and search carefully until she finds it?”…Then Jesus said, “There was a man who had two sons” (Luke 15.4, 8, 11)
Today, we commemorate the nineteenth anniversary of September 11, 2001, when terrorists at the controls of hijacked airliners brought down New York’s World Trade Center towers, damaged the Pentagon, and crashed in a Pennsylvania field. All told, killing nearly 3,000 people, injuring more than 6,000 others, causing grief, stirring fear and anger for countless families and friends, indeed, a world.
Since that day, which was…is a generational mega-event – akin to Pearl Harbor, the assassinations of John Fitzgerald Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr., Watergate, and, now, a viral global pandemic and renewed cultural and racial turmoil – we have witnessed the horrifying rise of incidents of terror and hate crimes. Sadly, there is nothing new under the sun about human cruelty in whatever name, for whatever cause.
We might react to all that befalls our world and us by losing ourselves in the wilderness or the darkened corners of fear and anger. That would be a natural, human response. Yet, perhaps, supernaturally, our faith, our trust and confidence in God might spare us.
Jesus, in response to the religious authorities grumbling that he “welcomes sinners,” tells parables of a shepherd leaving ninety-nine sheep, seeking and finding the lost one and of a woman searching her home for one lost coin. Immediately following, Jesus says, “There was a man who had two sons.” The Parable of the Prodigal Son.
Three consecutive lost-and-found stories make clear that God always is in the redemption-business, the commerce of deliverance. God always seeks the lost. God always is never done with us.
Surely, one faithful response to God’s unconditional, unconquerable, indefatigable love – one faithful response to God Who is Love – is our repentance; looking up to God and turning away from fear and anger; especially of the sort that fuels mistrust and hatred of others, “the other”; all those who, in whatever way or ways, are different.
Today is the nineteenth anniversary of 9/11. In the spirit of our commemoration, our remembrance, one aspect of divine deliverance is our contemplation and taking action, communally and individually, regarding our daily behaviors in relation to all peoples. What can you and I do to make the world a safer, saner, sounder place?
So, I pray this day: O God, on this 19th anniversary of 9/11, by your Holy Spirit, you show yourself alway to be a God of love, never hate. And, as we remember the dead, the survivors still with griefs unending, and the wounds incurred and endured to our national and global psyche, by your same Holy Spirit, nurture in us your presence and power that we may abide in peace with you and all peoples of whatever race and religion that your kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
© 2020 PRA
The Good Shepherd (Le bon pasteur), James Tissot (1836-1902)
Parable of the Lost Coin, James Tissot (1836-1902)
Return of the Prodigal Son (detail, Father and Son) (c. 1669), Rembrandt van Rijn (1606-1669)