1At that very time there were some present who told him [Jesus] about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. 2 He asked them, "Do you think that because these Galileans suffered in this way they were worse sinners than all other Galileans? 3 No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all perish as they did. 4 Or those eighteen who were killed when the tower of Siloam fell on them-- do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others living in Jerusalem? 5 No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all perish just as they did." (Luke 13:1-5 NRS)
I know things were different down here on September 11th where the focus 15 years ago would have been at the Pentagon about 70 miles away. For us living on Manhattan it was a different experience. The towers did fall and I unfortunately had someone e-mail me the next day to claim that God had rounded up the sinners and exacted punishment on them that day. I was shocked that someone could claim such a judgment on people she did not know anything about. Who was she to make such a judgmental statement. In this statement how could she stand apart as if she was sinless when the only sinless person to walk this earth was Jesus?
If a statement like that was true, what does it say about the victims of Katrina, the Ellicott City and Louisiana flood victims. What of those in California and other places who lost everything to fires raging across their land? What of tornado victims and victims of hurricanes, earthquakes and other disasters? If we were victims what would you think and how would you feel if you were thought of in this manner?
37 "Do not judge, and you will not be judged; do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven; 38 give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap; for the measure you give will be the measure you get back." (Luke 6:37-38 NRS)
What will be the measure this woman who e-mailed me get back when it is time for her to be judged? I shudder to think. When I e-mailed her back and reminded her that no one is qualified to make this kind of judgment but God I never heard from her again.
45so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous. (Matthew 5:45 NRS)
So we see that the good often suffer with the evil ones, for now. But when the day of judgment comes who will suffer most? We need to remember Jesus who was pure and sinless suffered on the cross for us and those who should have stood by him in that moment were not there.
15 years ago the good did suffer along with those who were “not so good” but what came out of the event was a renewed spirit of cooperation and caring from many unexpected places. This showed that human-ity was capable of performing loving acts for one another even at the risk of their own well-being. Imitators of Jesus came to help and remained until all they were capable of doing was accomplished. September 11th was our Tower of Siloam whether it was in New York City, Washington D.C. or Shanksville, PA. But Je-sus’ question is still the same today, “Do you think these were worse sinners because of what happened to them?”
We need to remember when tragic events happen on a personal or global scale the only judgment that counts is
the judgment of God who sent his Son Jesus to die on the cross for us so we would receive God’s forgiveness and
mercy when we ourselves come before his throne.
As we remember the people and events of September 11th let us remember our God is merciful and even if we do
not understand what is happening around us, his Son Jesus is standing with us with comfort and love to sustain
our hearts and souls.
God’s peace be with us all,