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We Are Safe

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Fr Luke Veronis
September 16, 2001

After the terrorist bombing in America this week, many people may ask themselves, "Who is safe anymore? If people aren't safe in the strongest country in the world, where are they safe." They feel this way because the violence was not an attack against America only, but an attack against civilization. Terrorists and fanatics, whether religious, political or whatever else, are people filled with hatred and darkness, people who cannot accept others who think and act differently from themselves. Such terrorists may attack America today, because it is a superpower, but tomorrow, they will attack someone else.

Therefore, I ask again, "Who is truly safe anymore? And where can we stay to remain safe?"

For us Christians, the answer comes in today's epistle and gospel lesson. We are in the Sunday after the Elevation of the Cross, when we still reflect on the meaning of the cross. We heard St. Paul say, "I have been crucified with Christ, and it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me, and the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me."(Gal 2:19b-20).

We are crucified with Christ. In other words, we have died. We have died to the world and to all its threats, fears, worries, and concerns. We have united ourselves with the source of life, Christ Himself. And if we have given our life over to Christ, then we know we are safe within his loving hands.

Jesus promises, "Anyone who comes to me I will never cast away." He gives the image that He is the good shepherd who takes care of his sheep. Nothing can threaten the sheep as long as they stay with the shepherd. Our life and our future are in our Lord's hands, therefore what can touch us? Can death from some terrorist or fanatic? No!

Remember what the purpose of the Christian life is - to abide with Jesus in an intimate relationship. We know that Christ is the Almighty, the "one who is, who was and who is to come," If we are one with Christ, then who can touch us. We are safe.

What was the greatest tragedy in America this week? That so many people died. And yet, if death is not the end, then the tragedy is lessoned. We have a different understanding of the picture, and a different hope for the future. God is still in control of history. His providence still rules.

Will unexpected death make us fear? No, because we know that death is not the end. If we are with Christ, it is not a tragedy to die, no matter how we die, because death is a door to union with our Creator. Christ promised, "I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die."

With great assurance, St. Paul believed these words of Christ and mocked death when he wrote, "Death has been swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?...For me to live is Christ and to die is gain."

Therefore, if we take away the greatest fear of life, death itself, then we do not need to fear anything! Our future is in the hands of God.

Remember what our spiritual life says about the future. "We are certain in our uncertainty. Certainty is the mark of the common sense life; gracious uncertainty is the mark of the spiritual life. To be certain of God means that we are uncertain in all our ways, we do not know what a day may bring forth. This is generally said with a sigh of sadness; it should be rather an expression of breathless expectation. We are uncertain of the next step, but we are certain of God. We are not uncertain of God, but uncertain of what He is going to do next.He packs our life with surprises all the time. (Oswald Chambers)

In the beginning, I asked, "Who is safe?" The answer is all those who "have crucified themselves and died to themselves. All who are united with Christ.

And "where are we safe?" We are safe wherever we may be, as long as we are in the loving hands of our Lord.

Unfortunately, we forget this promise of our lord, and we focus too much on the fears and anxieties of the world. We focus on trying to save our lives through the securities and protections of the world. But Jesus says in the Gospel lesson. "What does it profit a man to gain the world but forfeit his life? For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and the sake of th gospel, will save it." Christ is saying that we find true life, we discover the meaning of life, when we are ready to lose our lives for a greater cause. It's a paradox, and unfortunately, not too many people are ready to follow it.

But Jesus says clearly, if you want to discover true, authentic life, then "deny yourself, take up your cross (i.e die to the worries of the world), and follow me." And in following Christ, we discover not only security, but we discover life itself!

May God grant rest to all those who died in America this week. May He comfort those who are in mourning. And may he give all of us the assurance of safety and security for the future in His loving hands.