Florida, An Elevator, and Peace….
Devotional Thought of the Day:
1 On that day, you will say: I give you thanks, O LORD; though you have been angry with me, your anger has abated, and you have consoled me. 2 God indeed is my savior; I am confident and unafraid. My strength and my courage is the LORD, and he has been my savior. 3 With joy you will draw water at the fountain of salvation, 4 and say on that day: Give thanks to the LORD, acclaim his name; among the nations make known his deeds, proclaim how exalted is his name. 5 Sing praise to the LORD for his glorious achievement; let this be known throughout all the earth. 6 Shout with exultation, O city of Zion, for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel!
Isaiah 12:1-6 (NAB)
The impression that people have today is that being a Christian is something irksome, a multiplicity of commands and prohibitions to which new prohibitions are added with every increase in knowledge and every new possibility that is opened to us. Little by little, it begins to seem impossible to live all that, to bear all that. Ultimately, faith seems to be just a burden. But when a person has once met Christ, when a person has once seen Jesus and really learned to know him, then everything is changed. Then everything else is comprehensible and life is renewed. And you priests have really only one task: to present Jesus to all people in such a way that they see him and learn to love him. Then everything that faith teaches will be self-evident.
I remember then that Saint Paul, in his Letter to the Galatians, described his activity as apostle and priest in the following words: “I depicted Christ clearly before your eyes” (cf. Gal 3:1). Ultimately that is what the priesthood is all about: to have seen Jesus oneself, to have received with love him whom we have seen, to live in that seeing, and then to show him to others. (1)
Yesterday, I awoke to the news that there was a tragedy, an act of terrorism by a man who was described by many as always angry, always wanting to strike out. A man who grew up here, in a land full of churches, in a land of freedom.
Today I woke up to a memory on Facebook, reminding me of another angry young man. One who was specifically trained in the middle east to be a cold-blooded assassin. He grew up in a nation torn by war, where both sides persecuted their enemies. Where family members died, and where revenge was a way of life. It was tied to religion and culture, ethnicity and historic hatred. A man who didn’t murder 49 people yesterday, but instead helped other know peace. A year ago today he visited my church and shared about both his anger and brokenness, and how he now knew peace.
As I look at the star contrast, the difference between the two men, the difference comes down to a moment in an elevator. AN elevator in a war-torn country that is still torn apart today.
Yeah, started in an elevator, maybe the time it takes to travel 10-12 stories. The man with the history, whose brother was killed, who family was torn apart by war, stepped into the elevator where another man was. A man who could have represented everything the man was against.
And in those brief moments, everything changed. In those moments, the brokenness of both men, and the fact that one found hope and healing, enabled the other man to do the same.
Peace became evident where it should not have had the slightest chance. Love made the difference, as an old man reached out to an angry young guy and who over time would depict Christ clearly to him, who would give him hope, who would see him come to know God’s love and praise the God, who saved him. The angry young guy is now a pastor, trying to reach out to others, and bring them peace. The older man, simply took the time to listen, and talk, and share the peace he knew helped him in his brokenness. The story of a man who loved his enemies enough to let them kill Him, so He could bring them peace, sanctuary, rest, and joy.
I am not sure if anyone ever tried to reach out to the man who terrorized a community as he killed people whose parents, siblings, friends who are traumatized and grieving this morning. I have heard that many recognized his brokenness and even lived in fear of him.
I don’t know about the past, save that we can learn from it. We can reach out to those who are broken, who seem depressed, who are angry, hurt, even those who aren’t like “us.” (Whatever that means) We can make known His works to all the nations, doing so in a way that is loving and respectful. We can love them, and pray for them, and see God work in their lives.
For in our brokenness, we have seen Christ, we have received Him and learned to love Him, and living in fellowship with Him. We can show him to others….loving them,
even in an elevator…
Lord have mercy upon us ALL! AMEN!
(1) Ratzinger, J. (1992). Co-Workers of the Truth: Meditations for Every Day of the Year. (I. Grassl, Ed., M. F. McCarthy & L. Krauth, Trans.) (p. 191). San Francisco: Ignatius Press.