Sunday, April 20, 2008
Pope Benedict XVI at Ground Zero
Pope Benedict XVI has visited and prayed for peace at ground zero. I find this incredibly moving. I volunteered with the American Red Cross in December of 2001. I worked six blocks from ground zero. I was there on Christmas Day as family members visited the unrecovered. I remember the exhausted, numb faces of firefighters from around the nation give up there time to search for remains. I remember police officers who were treated like heroes. I remember that stories of so many people whose lives were forever changed on that day. I remember the hush that extended for blocks around ground zero as people approached holy ground.
That the Holy Father is there this day says what happened on that horrible day is not forgotten. During his visit to the United States the Holy Father has met with representatives of various branches of the Christian family. He has met with representatives from Buddhism, Islam, Jainism, Hinduism and Judaism. He has spoken out for human rights and collective, not independent, action to protect those rights.
This day, in that place all of this comes together. He has prayed for an end to violence in the world. He as spoken of a need for an end to torture. He has called for the religious of all nations and all faiths to respect the religious rights of others.
I don’t believe that prayer just changes things automatically. I don’t believe God is a giant Santa Claus waiting to hear our wants and wishes and then giving us what we asked for if we were good boys and girls. I don’t believe God simply says, “Thanks for pointing that out to me, I hadn’t notice all the violence on your planet. Now Ill do something about it.”
I do believe that prayer changes us. At our best we shut up and listen. Today I hope/pray that the faithful are listening to the pope. I hope we hear and realize that reactive violence is incompatible with our faith. I pray that we realize that at that site where the DNA of people from all over the world is mingled together, that we are one planet, one family, and we need to begin to treat one another that way. I am not someone who believes we ignore attacks on us. I do believe that my faith asks me to do something different, something much more difficult. It is to respond with love and I have no idea how that is even remotely possible without prayer.