“Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you…” – Luke 6:27-28
We were staggered by the icy calculation of the attacks, stupefied that the men who carried them out believed God was pleased with the carnage. It was harder than ever to hear the Gospel in those days: Love your enemies. Repay no one evil for evil. How could we hear it, much less obey, after bad men with box-cutters ripped open our hearts? It felt almost obscene to suggest it.
Yet as families grieved, the nation sped to war, and it became a civic virtue to hate your Muslim neighbor, there were some who asked, If this is not the time to summon each other to love, when is? What else should we say in a world where now not even an eye for an eye is sufficient?
And so in those awful days, obedient in faith, they spoke of the forgiveness of enemies, speak of it still, and hope to keep speaking of it to the end of their days, even though they know it is in some respects an offensive and terrible doctrine.
But faith is faith, not common sense, not even pious common sense. In the bleak landscape between ordinary devotion and extraordinary desperation, it demands a kind of surrender and bestows a mysterious courage. By its peculiar grace alone, we grope and anguish, remember and pray, hope and wonder, obey and persist our way towards healing, a new humanity, an impossible love, a someday resurrection.
Remember in mercy, O God, all who perished on that day. And remember us who live and mourn, struggling to hear, struggling to believe, struggling to obey the awful law of love.
Mary Luti is a long time seminary educator and pastor, author of Teresa of Avila’s Way and numerous articles, and founding member of The Daughters of Abraham, a national network of interfaith women’s book groups.