Wednesday, August 31, 2011


The 10th Anniversary of the terrorist attacks on 9/11 happens to fall on a Sunday this year. I have already noticed a few news websites beginning to gear up for an extravaganza of nostalgia on the topic. I always find such things to be both distasteful and, frankly, to be sheer laziness on the parts of news reporters. Simply going back and digging up news archives of events of the past instead of covering real news lacks a certain journalistic integrity in my opinion. Retrospectives and "what have we learned" documentaries are fine, but just having a 24-hour recast of horrific events 10 years ago strikes me as ghoulish.

As I noted, 9/11 falls on a Sunday. As chance (Divine providence?) would have it, the Lectionary readings, particularly the gospel, for that Sunday are truly an interesting happenstance. The Gospel Reading from Matthew for that Sunday is as follows:

"Peter came and said to Jesus, "Lord, if another member of the church sins against me, how often should I forgive? As many as seven times?" Jesus said to him, "Not seven times, but, I tell you, seventy-seven times.

"For this reason the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his slaves. When he began the reckoning, one who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him; and, as he could not pay, his lord ordered him to be sold, together with his wife and children and all his possessions, and payment to be made. So the slave fell on his knees before him, saying, `Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.' And out of pity for him, the lord of that slave released him and forgave him the debt. But that same slave, as he went out, came upon one of his fellow slaves who owed him a hundred denarii; and seizing him by the throat, he said, `Pay what you owe.' Then his fellow slave fell down and pleaded with him, `Have patience with me, and I will pay you.' But he refused; then he went and threw him into prison until he would pay the debt. When his fellow slaves saw what had happened, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their lord all that had taken place. Then his lord summoned him and said to him, `You wicked slave! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. Should you not have had mercy on your fellow slave, as I had mercy on you?' And in anger his lord handed him over to be tortured until he would pay his entire debt. So my heavenly Father will also do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother or sister from your heart."

So, preachers have the fun task of applying "seventy times seven" forgiveness to 9/11, but also has to deal with the notion of a king torturing a slave.

I predict either a finger wagging Sunday from many pulpits, or else preachers will suddenly take an interest in non-Gospel lessons. Of course, given the other options, that's not that much easier for preachers wanting a cop out.

Could be for a fun Sunday. 

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