Sometimes we hear through news reports that a disaster has occurred on the far side of the ocean – or the far side of town.
We try to make sense of it. We pray. We seek personal connections.
Was my colleague in Christchurch hurt? Yes.
Are my son’s friends in Japan okay? Yes.
A plane goes down in northern Iraq.
And Murad Michael Megalli was on board.
We mourn him. We are torn by the loss.
What will we do now? How can we help each other?
And we begin to remember him – or learn about him – and reclaim a fuller sense of his life – and of God’s abundant love.
For God does not ever intentionally will somebody harm.
He did not will that plane to go down, leaving Sami and Roman, Aguil, Martha, Roger, Margaret – all who knew him, all who would have known him, all those whom he served without being known, without his presence.
What we have is our presence with each other and with God – and the continuing comforting presence, felt yet or not yet, of the One who gave his Son to be with us as one of us, sharing our human flesh and fate that we might be taken up ourselves into the divine life.
When that day comes we will not be less ourselves – we will not be absorbed into nonentity – but God will complete in us his work beyond imagining – bringing us at last into the fullness of life – that we when we stand together at the Last Day will know each other fully at last, as we gaze – with Murad – into the face of Christ, and hear him say,
Welcome home, good brother – good son – good father – good servant of my kingdom, and God’s own beloved child.
At that banquet table – to which we are all invited – we too will be at home.
Somewhere on a bookshelf I have had an old paperback – Shooting Stars – photographs (from Rolling Stone) of musicians from the 60s and 70s. There is a picture of a rock star slumped against the wall in a border control entry station. He is dressed like Elvis but he is an alien. (He’s British.) Above him over his head – his head with those cool sunglasses hiding his eyes – is an official poster, which reads, “Patience, please. A drug-free America comes first.”
It might well say, today, “Security comes first.”
Security is our first consideration at times of trouble. Am I okay? Are you all right? Is my family safe?
And we begin to ask, what can I do to protect myself? What can they do to keep this from happening again? Where can I find security?
Jesus walked out into the wilderness alone – and there was nothing there; nothing but temptation, it looked like. Nothing to rely on. No safety, no security, unless –
Human beings live by the word of God. Do not tempt the Lord. Worship God and him only.
In other words, this is the first and greatest commandment: Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart and mind, all thy soul and all thy spirit, and with all thy strength. That is where your security lies.
Could the second be like unto it?
You shall love your neighbor as you love yourself.
Can everything – all the words of the Law and the Prophets – depend on this? Can we count on these words? What if we are dying? What if –
And yet – we may follow in the footsteps of Israel in the wilderness, of David in the hidden fortress up in the hills, of Elijah in the cave mouth on the mountain, of Jesus in the desert – and facing the Tempter say,
Begone: for I love the living God and him only will I serve.
I put my trust – my life – in the hands of the One who created all things, who redeems all from sin, and brings us to the fullness, the completion, of our lives – in the one ultimately safe place, the love of God.
What must we do to be saved? Believe – in the one true and living God who created all things.
Genesis 2:15-17; 3:1-7
In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.
12 Mar 2011