This world we live in is a tricky place sometimes. The barbaric acts that human being are capable of inflicting on other human beings is beyond comprehension. Certainly the recent attacks in Paris showed us that. It is not just France either. Many places throughout our world face violence on a regular basis through war and acts of terror. How are we to react in such times?
Any time there is a major attack on innocent civilians it tugs at the heart strings of nearly everyone. People from around the world came together in this last week to pray for and support Paris during this time. Prayer is so very powerful. Especially when it does not seem like there is much else we can do. How do you fight a terrorist group? How do you wage war on an organization that does not have a specific location? How do you reason with a group that could commit such heinous acts?
Terrorist. The word may have been new at one point. But having grown up in the midst of the 9/11 attacks, the term is certainly well-known. It describes a person or group whose purpose, truly, seems to be to inflict terror. They show no remorse at killing and do so without regard as to who these people might be. They have allowed evil into their hearts and souls and now try to inflict this terror on the rest of us. To make us think we need to be afraid. Perhaps to frighten us into becoming like them.
I am not a politician. And in times like these I am certainly glad that I am not the one making the tough decisions. But I do know of one way we can all fight back. And that is to resist the temptation to give in to that fear. That is exactly what they want.
Instead, we should continue to live our lives. Maybe hold our loved ones a little closer and spend some extra time in prayer for peace in our world. But we should still live our lives. Still travel and go on vacations and go to the mall and go see a movie or attend a sporting event.
And then we should take it one step further.
As Christians we are called to help those in need among us. Whether they look like us or not, regardless of where they come from. For in the poor and needy among us, we can find Christ. Jesus tells us that when we help those in need among us, we are helping Him. And that when we refuse aid to the least of His people, it is as though we are refusing to help Jesus Himself.
The recent attacks in Paris made our world seem smaller somehow. It brought the threat of terrorism again into the spotlight. And in the wake of these attacks, many have reacted harshly towards those who are in desperate need of help. The attacks of these terrorists have left literally millions of people displaced. Millions of people have lost their homes, their livelihoods, their loved ones. Millions of people have left everything they have ever known to get on a rickety boat in hopes that where they land will be better than the horror they are facing in the land they used to call home.
And it is our responsibility to help them in whatever way we can.
To close down our borders to certain groups of needy people solely out of fear that a terrorist may be among them? This is to let the terrorists win. This is a highly emotional topic and passions run high. But I believe that if we truly look in our hearts, if we read the words of Christ, it becomes clear that there is only one answer. Refuse to give in to fear and reach out to help. We cannot live in fear of a potential terrorist in our midst. And we certainly do not have the right to refuse assistance to so many people so desperately in need simply because they come from a similar geographic location as the terrorists try to call home.
We are called to welcome the strangers. And for those truly concerned about our national security? Our nation has measures in place to look into the background refugees. You can read about the process that these people go through in order to come to America here.
St. John Paul II at the beginning of his pontificate famously said “Do not be afraid. Open, I say open wide the doors for Christ.”
It is time for us to live those words. To refuse to be afraid because we know that our God is bigger than any threat we might face here on earth. To refuse to live in fear of attack because we know the One who gave His life so that death is not the end! Death holds no power over us because Jesus has conquered death! To open the doors to our hearts so that we may be filled with the love of the Lord and the Holy Spirit within us. And to open the doors of our nation to those in need. For by serving them, we serve Christ.
Pray for Paris.
Pray for Peace.
Do not be afraid.