As I reviewed my book recently, I was watching some of the 10th anniversary ceremonies conducted at the site of the World Trade Center memorial. I wrote meditation shortly after September 11, 2001, and decided to share it with you now.
We have perhaps all witnessed (at least on television) the horrific attack made on the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and on the flight over Pennsylvania on September 11, 2001. Those images are seared in our memories forever. The gaping holes, twisted beams and crushed bodies cry out to God, as did the blood of Abel. We mourn for nearly 3000 innocent people who lost their lives, for families who must carry on without them and for the country’s loss of innocence. If you screamed against God for allowing this to happen, or, even for a moment, wondered if God had abandoned his universe, you are not alone. Your faith in a good God was severely tested.
There are no easy answers.
This was the terrible act of men who cultivated a conscience so erroneous and twisted that they thought their deeds, which objectively were monstrously evil, could somehow actually please God, as they understood him. Their choice was not in keeping with the teachings of Muslims who worship the one, living, eternal merciful God. These sons and daughters of Abraham also follow a strict moral code and they are worthy of deep respect (Declaration on the Relation of the Church to Non-Christian Religions 2, 3.)
No one can assert that all these untimely deaths, which were the immediate result of moral evil, were the direct will of God. They weren’t. They were caused by sin. Yet, God, the giver of free will, permitted them to happen. God also permitted his only son, Jesus, to be put to death on a cross. We do not always understand God’s ways, his providence, or the reasons why he permits evil to happen. Nevertheless, we can trust that God brings good out of evil. God is Lord of all human history. If not before, then at the Last Judgment we will see how the grace of God has been sufficient to overcome all evil, especially unthinkable acts of moral evil such as the ones perpetrated on 9/11.