Jesus saw the city and wept

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9.11 can lead to new, redeeming chapter for the world, ending one of retribution

We are so familiar with the entrance of Jesus into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. It was a brief moment of triumph as people laid down their cloaks like a red carpet and waved palm branches with abandon. What a frenzy of welcome for this superhero. (Luke 19:35-38)

Immediately after, Luke says Jesus wept over that city. “If this day you only knew what makes for peace, but it is hidden from your eyes.” Jesus left Jerusalem a week later, carrying a cross to Calvary hill where he was crucified as a criminal — and people wept.

Remembering Sept. 11 with 10 years of hindsight gives us pause to ponder the terrible destruction of life in New York, Pennsylvania and Washington D.C. – the haunting loss of victims and rescue workers, the inevitable wars spawned by that fateful day in 2001. Sept. 11 simply will not be erased from our psyche. Jesus weeps again with us over the world where peace is possible, and yet what makes for peace is hidden from our eyes.

Knee-jerking vengeance and violence are very attractive first responses. At the end of the day, however, they simply reduce every victim and our entire world to the same tactics that created the unspeakable destruction in the first place.

Jesus tossed away the “eye for an eye” response a long time ago. Mahatma Gandhi said that if we perpetrate the “an eye for an eye” tactic, the whole world will end up blind.

What viable alternative is there in a world of clenched fists and gotcha-back mentality? Jesus did not enter the picture wielding a sword or a gun — he was no weapons-brandishing Messiah.

Jesus began to convert people one by one with his openness and hospitality, his friendship and healing. He lighted a candle in the heart of every person open to his message of peace. People were changed by Jesus’ presence. They became more like him. Is not this which impresses us today in our own corner of the world?

Ten years have passed. Each one of us can renew our commitment right here, right now, to write a new and redeeming chapter for our world after Sept. 11. It is for all of us to create a legacy of abundant life rather than a culture of punitive death.

The Carroll County Ministerial Association invites everyone to gather at 3 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 11, in the fellowship hall the United Methodist Church in Carrollton for an ecumenical gathering of prayer and sharing on this 10th anniversary of the terrorist attacks.


Sister Paula Gohs, C.D.P., is a pastoral associate at St. John’s The Evangelist Catholic Church in Carrollton.