Tom Finneran: And Jesus Wept

Friday, April 19, 2013


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Jesus was in Boston this past Monday afternoon. And Jesus wept.

You don’t have to be a Christian or a person of any another faith to be moved by such simple and powerful words. These three sad words are the most powerful words in the entire Bible. And as sad as they are, they are also comforting, for they reassure us that Jesus knows the grief of humanity.

What an enormous crime was committed in Boston on that beautiful Spring day, a day made even lovelier by the celebration of great American traditions. The re-enactments at Concord and Lexington, the running of the Marathon, the gathering of families and friends at favored locations are all a part of celebrating both freedom and life itself. Then evil found us. And Jesus wept…………………..

People in the prime of life, even a child, were mercilessly, anonymously, and cowardly killed in the broad daylight of that suddenly heartbreaking afternoon. Others were maimed, losing limbs and even worse, losing trust. Those victims, and their families, will never be the same. Indeed, we are all changed forever. Many Boston Marathons lie ahead of us. None of them will be run without remembering the Marathon of 2013.

The cowardice of the bomber(s) is obvious. Slinking and skulking along like bloodthirsty jackals among happy celebratory civilians, toting weapons designed to concuss and cripple and kill is the essence of cowardice. Whatever political point or principle the perpetrator hopes to make is not advanced by the slaughter of a child. A much braver act would be for the perpetrator to stand boldly in front of his perceived political antagonists and publicly declare a hunger strike. There would be media discussion, continuing coverage, confrontation with political leaders, and pressure to respond to the particular grievances. That would be a course of action for a brave and principled person to follow.

Of course we saw such bravery and such principles in ample display on Monday afternoon. Witness the actions of civilians shielding, protecting, and comforting their injured fellow citizens. Witness the astounding skill and discipline of the doctors and nurses in attendance, all there to attend to the stresses of the runners, then suddenly thrown headlong into our version of a battlefield trauma tent. Witness the willingness of police, fire, and EMTs to put themselves in harm’s way, not knowing the extent of malice and preparation undertaken by the perpetrators. Perhaps a string of bombs, exquisitely and hideously timed to wipe out responding personnel was to be their fate. Yet they were undeterred.

Yes, we saw bravery and principles and kindness and compassion on Monday. In abundance. And Jesus smiled, because the witness of human kindness , in the face of cruelty and evil, is an awesome sight.

It’s impossible to predict what next year’s Marathon will be like. Will runners, both world class and pedestrian, stay away due to fear? Will spectators be searched and subjected to body scans? Will the finish line, the famous gathering place for exhausted runners and proud exhilarated families become a sterile wasteland of security? In the immediate aftermath of Monday’s crimes, it is impossible to say.

Yet, if forced to predict, I’d agree with Congressman Lynch’s forecast. When asked for his thoughts on the effects of the bombings on future Boston Marathons, he ventured to say that “there will be twice as many runners and twice as many folks cheering them on”. I think he’s right. That’s a Bostonian response. Ask the vaunted Brits about Concord and Lexington and Bunker Hill. Ask them about Dorchester Heights. Ask them about Bostonians. And make no mistake about it, we are all Bostonians now.

There’s something gratifying about sticking out your jaw in the face of adversity. We didn’t pick this fight. But we should not shy away from it. We can let law enforcement do its work and we can go about ours---healing the broken and consoling those who grieve, tending to our families and our communities, and planning a magnificent Boston Marathon for next year.

We know that Jesus wept on Monday. Let’s make Jesus smile.


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