Tuesday, September 11, 2018

In this hell I found grace (Fr. James Martin)

  Shortly after the attacks on the World Trade Center, Fr. James Martin volunteered on the site.  He has shared his experiences in various articles and in the book Searching for God at Ground Zero. 

  Fr. 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 selfless, utterly unconcerned for himself or herself.  Every person seemed kind, considerate, loving.

  All of their work, of course, was deeply informed by the sacrifices that had already been made by the firefighters and rescue workers who gave their lives as they raced into the burning buildings on September 11.  For me, it was as if God was offering us a parable.  In the Gospels, when people asked what God or the Kingdom of God is like, Jesus offered them a parable, a story drawn from nature or everyday life to help them understand things more deeply.  Jesus would say:  God is like the father welcoming back his son.  Or:  God is like a woman sweeping her house.

  And here was God offering us a parable today.  As I looked around at the rescue workers, 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 great charity of all the rescue workers who gathered at the American Golgotha.

  So for me, the experience of September 11, 2001, was not simply one of tragedy but also of resurrection.  For me it embodied the Christian mystery of the cross:  the place of unimaginable tragedy can also be the place of new life that comes in unexpected ways.

--Fr. James Martin, 
The Parable of Ground Zero 

Searching for God at Ground Zero

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