As I was reading a Washington Post article yesterday, I was intrigued by a photograph of "An open bible fused into some metal found by a NY firefighter during the recovery phase at Ground Zero post 9/11." It appears to be a red-letter edition of the King James Version of the Bible (with the words of Jesus printed in red). I was able to read some of the words on the open pages, and I figured out that the page was open to Matthew chapter 5. I later found the original image, which is much larger and easier to read. (Click to see it full-size. My commentary continues below.)
Photo credit: Ira Block Photography
This chapter records Matthew's account of a sermon given by Jesus Christ during his mortal ministry (namely, the Sermon on the Mount, which continues through Matthew chapter 7). Among other things, Jesus spoke about retaliation:
38 Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth:The chapter continues with the following verses (in the 9/11 relic, these are mostly obscured by portions of other pages fused together) in which Jesus taught about loving one's enemies:
39 But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.
40 And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloke also.
41 And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain.
42 Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away.
43 Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy.You may wish to read Matthew chapter 5 in its entirety (verses 30 through 42 and portions of verses 43 and 44 are visible in the artifact). Fragments from these other chapters are partially visible: Matthew chapter 6, chapter 7, and chapter 8.
44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;
45 That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.
46 For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same?
47 And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so?
48 Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.
Lest I be misunderstood, I should explain that I do not wish for my sharing of this to be misconstrued as any sort of personal political commentary. On the contrary, I firmly believe that the words of Jesus Christ have far greater significance and importance than any past or present political issue.
Rather, I wish for those who read this to ponder this discovery and the passages on the open pages. Do you find any significance in these verses relevant to the events of 9/11 or its aftermath? Do you feel that as a society we are embracing the values Jesus taught in these chapters? How do the things Jesus taught in these chapters make you feel? Do they prompt any introspection? What can we learn from them? How can we implement these teachings in our own lives? If you feel so inclined, please leave a comment on this blog post and share your thoughts or feelings.