There is a thought-provoking episode of the PBS series Frontline currently in rotation on our local PBS network station that discusses Faith and Doubt in the aftermath of the tragedy of September 11, 2001. The show originally aired on September 3, 2002. I would recommend taking the two hours to watch it. The program is also available on-line at Faith & Doubt at Ground Zero. You may have to watch it over the course of a couple of sessions. It is intense, and has disturbing images and very frank language at times. The show doesn’t provide definitive answers, just a lot of thought-provoking questions and commentary from the perspective of many religious traditions and non-religious people. The portion of the program on Evil (Chapter 4 – The Face of Evil) was especially insightful in my opinion. Perhaps a better instruction on the nature and reality of evil than I received or comprehended in seminary training or subsequent formation.
As I prepare to preach this coming Sunday, the 10th anniversary of the attack of that day, the program has given me much to ponder. I don’t know if any of its content will make it into my homily that day, but watching the show has reminded me that I stand in a precarious, humbling position of service to the community of faith, a community that waits for me to speak a word of hope, to interpret their experience of the brokenness of life that will help them to live with the questions and hopefully help people have a glimpse of God that will sustain us till we “see him face to face” when “we shall become like him” when “every tear will be wiped away.” (The quotes are from the embolisms added to Eucharistic Prayer III of the Roman Rite when used at a funeral Mass.) The scriptures of the day speak of forgiveness and the futility of vengeance and anger. They are not specifically about the American experience of that day 10 years ago, but how can people not hear the words of the prophet Sirach and Jesus in the context of all the various reminders that are flooding the media of the anniversary? This preacher is going to need the help of the Holy Spirit big time. Pray for me.