The world grows more complex and inflamed, violence erupts everywhere, evil seems to be spreading. I think of the massacre of students a few weeks ago in Montreal by a youth who left a message declaring his hatred of Christians, and the massacre of Amish children in Pennsylvania a few days ago by a man who proclaimed he was doing it because he hated God. I think of the wars in the Middle East, and the rage of Islamic extremists over an academic paper delivered by Pope Benedict XVI at the University of Regensburg, and the murder of a Catholic nun and burning of churches in reprisal for his talk. The list goes on and on and where it stops only Christians know — because the only place it stops is on a Cross on Calvary. Looking closely at what is happening in the world, or for that matter only superficially, we see murder in the human heart, violence as old as the story of Cain and Abel.
The terrorist attacks of September 11th have shaken the entire Western world, shattering our complacency, revealing to us the state of our unpreparedness, both sociopolitically and spiritually. We must hope that the subsequent turning to God in public and private prayer will continue, and that the present conflict will not spiral out of control into a global conflict. We must pray that Christ’s peace and his true justice will triumph over man’s instinctive desire for vengeance, and his need for security.
Freedom from fear is a good, but it cannot be purchased at any cost. If our highest value is only security, then we may for a time secure the borders of the West against the fanatics who hate us. But the internal life of a people is ultimately its best guarantor of strength. If we do not return to the principles God has written into creation, and live by moral absolutes both in our private lives and in our culture, we will suffer more attacks from violent individuals and groups.