9/11 story shows the way to bring Paul’s words to life

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good
—Paul to the Romans a long time ago

“Do something extraordinary!” was probably not in the mind or heart of Susan Retik as she grieved the loss of her husband in the events of 9/11. Susan was pregnant with their third child, at home in Boston, when she heard that her husband had died as United Flight 11 was crashed into the North Tower in New York by terrorists.

At the right time, however, she and Patti Quigley, another 9/11 widow, did something extraordinary. Together they started Beyond the 11th Foundation. The Foundation helps widows in Afghanistan to earn a living to support their families.

We have presented Susan’s story here: Is it possible to forgive? It is the subject of a documentary, Beyond Belief, available on DVD (and streaming on Netflix). I bring her story to your attention again after reading it again in USA Today: “Lessons from one widow to another

As we prepare for Sunday (8/28/11) I offer this to you: What Susan and Patti did in the sorrow and grief following 9/11 was (purposefully or not) to give flesh and blood, voice and touch, to the words of the Apostle Paul: “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Romans 12:21)

In our day with the 24/7 stream of news about evil and its aftermath it is so tempting to do nothing because the evil is so great and so pervasive. Long ago Paul spoke words to shatter such temptation, inaction, and defeat. In our own country, in our own day, Susan and Patti have not only spoken the same words but they have acted, they have done something extraordinary, to shatter the same temptation and defeatist attitude. They continue to work to overcome evil with good. And so must we.

Some questions to considerWhat small, ordinary, commonplace action are you called to share in order to overcome evil with good? What community, working to overcome evil with good, are you invited to join (for many together can do more than one alone)? To what community do you already belong where, working together, you strive to overcome evil with good? How will you overcome evil with good in your own time, with the skills you have, in the time you have, in the place you are? Be sure to leave a comment here to encourage me and others.

Author: Daniel Rondeau

I am a husband and father and an Episcopal Priest (from the Diocese of San Diego; "Retired" due to illness).

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