|Friar Mychal Judge, Fire Department Chaplain, dies at the Twin Towers|
9/11/2001: Twenty friars gathered around Friar Gene Mayer’s six-inch television at Cenacle Retreat House in Chicago. We were trying to comprehend the tragedy that was playing out before our eyes. We were shocked and stunned, as was everyone in our country. That night Chicago was eerily quiet as I viewed the skyscrapers that I was so familiar with from my time there. I prayed for the victims, tried to imagine the extent of the devastation and wondered what would happen next.
St. Francis calls us to be peacemakers. But how can we take that stance in the face of such hatred, death and destruction? How can we hate the senseless tragedy without letting our reactions spill over to all Muslims? Francis showed us the way by crossing the enemy lines and meeting face-to-face with Sultan al-Malik al-Kamil. He forged a respectful relationship to avoid the violence of the Fifth Crusade. They parted with reverence for each other.
We are called to cross what some consider “enemy lines” to forge relationships with our brothers and sisters of the Islamic faith who acknowledge Abraham and Jesus as great prophets and Mary as a very special woman. We can avoid the stereotyping of Muslims as terrorists when we see they have the same dreams and desires as we have. We avoid violence by focusing on relationships, understanding and diplomacy.