Last Monday in Boston, a woman was waiting for her husband to finish the marathon. They were from out of state, and had booked a hotel right next to the finish line. She had a great view. It was directly above the finish line. She was watching when the windows were blown out of storefronts on the street below, and she was horrified. But before she was evacuated from her room, she noticed something else. People, volunteers, emergency personal started to tear down the protective barriers and fences “like Hercules” – to get to the wounded. Good people jumped right in. In a matter of seconds, a scene of evil was transformed into a scene of compassion.
Later, as she found her husband and they wandered the streets, another hotel opened its lobby to the tired and confused runners. When she used her phone to connect to a Google forum for stranded runners, she heard from over 200 strangers offering their homes, their guest rooms, their showers, or transportation within a half hour. Nearby, a restaurant offered free food, drinks and use of phones as well to people who needed it. The owner of that restaurant said on Twitter that he was only repaying the kindness shown to him when that very same restaurant was severely damaged by fire in 2007, and how so many people showed up to help him.
The early Christians knew all about terrible acts. Our second reading, from the Book of Revelation, was originally written as a sort of code to the Christians. They were being persecuted under the reign of Domitian in the late 1st century. Violence was nothing new for them. What the author of Revelation wanted to make clear was that there was a good story awaiting all those who were persecuted for Jesus’ name. This evil will pass. There will be heroes. Every victim of injustice will be gathered around the throne, assured of God’s protection.
That’s the promise of Christ, the ultimate good. It was His actions that have saved the each one of us, from our darkness. His selflessness on the Cross, His only thinking of others — that’s the ultimate good we all remember on Easter Sunday.
But Christ is not alone. When we chose to do something, when we jump into an evil situation, our compassion and concern shines through as well. Just like first responders at the Boston Marathon. And in West, Texas. In China. And even in the flooded neighborhoods near Des Plains. They know in their hearts, as we do, the importance of life, the sacredness of every person, the basic dignities of food and shelter we all need.
Every person is worth saving… friend, stranger, Jew, Muslim, young, old, atheist, foreigner, man, woman, child… Nobody bothered to ask ‘who are you? when they were trying to save their life, or their home, when they were trying to comfort them. It didn’t matter then, it doesn’t matter now.
What if everyone you know in school, at home, took care of other people like that? Did everything they could for another person, even when it was a non-emergency? Worried more about others than themselves? Always acted for the good of everyone else?
What would our world look like? What if every time someone bullied you, or wrote something horrible on Facebook or Instagram, EVERYONE got together and defended you? Explained your side of the story? Put you first? Go after the evil “like Hercules.” How would you feel? Think about it. For every story of bullying, of texting rants, of places where we shouldn’t be, doing things we probably shouldn’t be doing, for every lie we have to listen to… we can find a good act, a good story. It’s when we take our pain, our suffering, and create something new, something positive. By not passing on the wrong that was done to us, by doing all we can to do bring light into the darkness. To rise above. Sometimes we see it in our service hours at school, but sometimes we don’t have to look that far.
Your heart is on the same place as those who pushed through the fences, who bagged sand as the waters rose, who searched in the rubble to save a life. All of us have in us the same heart as those volunteer firemen in West, Texas who rushed to the burning factory before it exploded, only thinking of those people in the town first, the people in the nursing homes who could be moved first, and themselves second. Who reached out and did everything they could, for somebody other than themselves.
For every terrible story, there is a wonderful story. For every evil in this world, there is good. For every sin, there is a grace. By saying “amen”, we become the good act. The good story. A Christ for others. We just need to be ready.