9/11 and the Ever-Present Christ

Am I a God at hand, says the LORD, and not a God afar off? Can a man hide himself in secret places so that I cannot see him? says the LORD. Do I not fill heaven and earth? (Jer. 23:23-24)

Christ, the crucified-now-Risen Lord, was found in the infernos that day. Christ was in the fiery heat, and the blackness of the smoke. His saving power alone could operate amid the heinous, diabolical treachery that took those lives that day.

On 9/11 Jesus stood as the threshold through death to eternity for every departed soul in Manhattan, Washington D.C., and Shanksville, Pennsylvania. Christ the Victim met every victim, those who suffered immediate death, and those who died lingering deaths from their wounds.

Who knows what instantaneous conversions may have taken place in those final moments of life for the victims of 9/11?

But Jesus has a way of being present to those who suffer both in the short as victims and long term as survivors and onlookers.

Down through the centuries and generations it has been seen that in suffering there is concealed a particular power that draws a person interiorly close to Christ, a special grace . . .

Suffering is, in itself, an experience of evil. But Christ has made suffering the firmest basis of the definitive good, namely the good of eternal salvation. By his suffering on the Cross, Christ reached the very roots of evil, of sin and death. He conquered the author of evil, Satan . . .

For suffering cannot be transformed and changed by a grace from outside, but from within. And Christ through his own salvific suffering is very much present in every human suffering, and can act from within that suffering by the powers of his Spirit of truth, his consoling Spirit. (John Paul II, Apostolic Letter, Salvifici Doloris, 1984, par. 26)

Jesus Christ is present in every human suffering.

In ten years since 9/11, Jesus still promises to be present to the survivors and onlookers: "Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted" (Mt. 5:4). Moreover, Jesus sends his mother, Mary, who once suffered grievously at the Cross, to supernaturally aid us in sorrow.

This is not all: the Divine Redeemer wishes to penetrate the soul of every sufferer through the heart of his holy Mother. . . . As though by a continuation of that motherhood which by the power of the Holy Spirit had given him life, the dying Christ conferred upon the ever Virgin Mary a new kind of motherhood—spiritual and universal—towards all human beings, so that every individual, during the pilgrimage of faith, might remain, together with her, closely united to him unto the Cross, and so that every form of suffering, given fresh life by the power of this Cross, should become no longer the weakness of man but the power of God. (John Paul II, Apostolic Letter, Salvifici Doloris, 1984, par. 26)

The woman who stood by the bleeding, dying Christ has an important role to play for us. (Perhaps not coincidentally, the Catholic Church has long recognized September as dedicated to Our Lady of Sorrows.)

Mary's way teaches us how to sift things. She models faith-filled suffering and a holy patience for the playing out of difficulties of one's life. Mary knows how to grieve enormous losses. Despite sorrows piercing her heart, she chose to believe in the more of God's economy: sharing in the cross with Christ lessens the burden for someone else.

 [Mary lives] this . . . Gospel of suffering. In her, the many and intense sufferings were . . . not only a proof of her unshakeable faith but also a contribution to the redemption of all. In reality, from the time of her secret conversation with the angel, she began to see in her mission as a mother her "destiny" to share, in a singular and unrepeatable way, in the very mission of her Son. And she very soon received a confirmation of this . . . in the solemn words of the aged Simeon, when he spoke of a sharp sword that would pierce her heart. Yet a further confirmation was in the anxieties and privations of the hurried flight into Egypt, caused by the cruel decision of Herod.

And . . . it was on Calvary that Mary's suffering, beside the suffering of Jesus, reached an intensity which can hardly be imagined from a human point of view but which was mysterious and supernaturally fruitful for the redemption of the world. Her ascent of Calvary and her standing at the foot of the Cross together with the Beloved Disciple were a special sort of sharing in the redeeming death of her Son. (John Paul II, Apostolic Letter, Salvifici Doloris, 1984, par. 25)

9/11/2011 4:00:00 AM