"Then Peter came up and said to Him, 'Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?' Jesus said to him, 'I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times'" (Matt. 18:21-22).
"Every cloud," goes the saying, "has a silver lining." 9/11 had a silver timing.
Next week, Tuesday, will mark the eleventh anniversary of 9/11. Last year, in preparing for the tenth anniversary, I made a little discovery. It was new to me anyway. And because it has helped me in the healing process, I want to share it with others.
Of the four planes involved on 9/11, the first one (Flight 11) crashed into the World Trade Center's North Tower at 8:46 a.m. And the last one (Flight 93) crashed in the Pennsylvania field at 10:03 a.m.
The discovery was this: That's a total of seventy-seven minutes.
There are other measures. But from one basic angle the timeframe of the 9/11 attacks was exactly seventy-seven minutes long. Or seventy-seven long minutes.
I immediately thought of the words of Jesus in Matthew 18:22 and the deep significance carried by the number seventy-seven.
File it under "coincidence," "there are no coincidences," or somewhere in between. All I know is that I was turned to the voice of Christ and heartened by it.
Adding to the "coincidence" was the fact that last year's tenth anniversary fell on a Sunday and, incredibly, the appointed Holy Gospel for that day was Matthew 18:21-35!
The discovery of the seventy-seven minutes along with the "seventy-seven times" of Jesus has been for a year now like a salve on the wound of 9/11. And for me, as a Christian, it has been a reminder and a promise that God wills to work in me and maintain a loving, forgiving heart toward all, including those who don't deserve it, and even those who don't desire it. He does this through meditation on my own sin and the cross of Christ.
I see in the seventy-seven minutes a silver timing and lesson that even a wound as deep as 9/11 needn't leave us with a bitter heart, but rather a faith that mercy is stronger than evil. And always will be.