Updated: Sep 30, 2019
It is difficult to hear this reading or any reading outside of the context of 9/11. This year an entire generation will turn 18 and never know the United States of my youth. They will never know what we gave up in the name of fear masked as "national security". Even after so many years, that morning with the towers fell still seems surreal. What would drive anyone to knowingly and willingly take their life and so many lives with them? Hate even covered in the veil of religion is just fear redirected. Fear is the food upon which sinful acts feed. To make someone or something an "enemy", the enemy must first become the source of fear.
The fear that fed 9/11 was that the secularism and the avarice of U.S. was destroying the moral and religious fiber of the Middle East. There appeared to be a callous indifference by the people of the U.S. as to how their military and multinational companies where wrecking the fabric of Muslim society. That perceived appearance turned to fear and fear fed the hate which manifested in unspeakable acts. Those acts would create a new enemy based on fear and that fear would place "security" over freedom.
In Luke, Jesus says that those who have lost everything have nothing to fear. God's love casts out all fear. Faith in that love feeds hope which finds doors which would have gone unnoticed. Faith and hope cause people to share out of love even when that seems like their is nothing much to share. It is in the midst of that hope and faith that the blessings Jesus describes are found.
When we feel that we have everything, the fear of loss begins to emerge. A sense of scarcity replaces abundance and love becomes a precious quantity which is meagerly distributed to the "deserving". Fear pushes hope aside for security and insurance against a fearful future. Faith shifts from a God that we can not see to material tangibles which can be horded. As the focus becomes increasingly centered on self interest and self preservation a callous indifference begins to form. Despite our best attempts, however, the more we try to hang on - the more we seem to loss. Woe to those who feel that they are their own gods for their illusion shall be broken and their towers will fall.
Fear leads to hate and callous indifference leads to acts of atrocity. The only way to avoid the woe is to live into faith, hope, and love. When we live into a faith in the abundance of God, we find we have more to share. The more we show love to others then the more their fears recede. Soon, all find blessing not in material things but in community with one another grounded on the Good News of Jesus Christ. For over two thousand years as nation states and empires have risen and fallen, communities of faith have survived not based on fear and callous indifference but on hope and abundant love. Which community do we want live in - fear or love?