“You wicked servant! I forgave you your entire debt because you begged me to. Should you not have had pity on your fellow servant, as I had pity on you? Then in anger his master handed him over to the torturers until he should pay back the whole debt.” So will my heavenly Father do to you, unless each of you forgives your brother from your heart.
The readings today, read throughout the world in every single Catholic Church, are very appropriate and providential for this day, September 11th, 2011. Ten years have passed since we witnessed the horrific terrorist attacks that took place in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania.
Children that are in the 5th grade today were not old enough to witness the live drama, the horror and the shock of that day. As time passes, these children and all future generations will have to rely on old news clips, just as we did on the drama and horror of Pearl Harbor. They do not know an America without terrorism and war. But what I fear most is that they may never learn about an America that came back to life through faith in God. We must never forget that we were afraid that day. We must never forget that our Churches were full that day! What brought us out of our fears and doubts was our Christian understanding of faith, hope and love.
“Brothers and sisters: None of us lives for oneself, and no one dies for oneself. For if we live, we live for the Lord, and if we die, we die for the Lord.” (Rom 14:7-8)
These words, written by St. Paul during Roman persecution, are a reminder to all Christian men and women that we must follow the example of the Lord who came into the world for us, preached for us, lived for us and died for us.
If we live and die for the Lord, we shall rise with the Lord.
Recently, I drove by a local mosque and noticed what was written on their community board. It read, “Remember God in everything you do.” What a wonderful message that can easily be distorted or manipulated. It is a known fact that the terrorists on 9/11 constantly invoked God. This morning, the Holy Father’s message to Americans was not only beautiful but educational. He said:
“The tragedy of that day (9/11/01) is compounded by the perpetrator’s claim to be acting in God’s name. Once again, it must be unequivocally stated that no circumstances can ever justify acts of terrorism. Every human life is precious in God’s sight and no effort should be spared in the attempt to promote throughout the world a genuine respect for the inalienable rights and dignity of individuals and peoples everywhere."
Religion does not divide; it actually unites if God is a Father, God is Love, and God is compassionate and merciful.
With all of America’s problems – and we got plenty of problems – the tragedy of September 11th reminded and strengthened a nation that needed to be reminded and strengthened.
We took our freedoms for granted. We mistook our national defense as strong. We under-estimated our enemies and we overestimated our national defense. We relied too heavily on our stocks and witnessed a group of killers bring Wall Street to their knees. But America was not built by investment brokers but by immigrant workers! And as long as this country continues to welcome the tired, the poor and those yearning to breathe free, it will continue to be the land of the free and the home of the brave!
Before the tragedy, we thought our young were too immature, too obese and way too lax and lazy. We were surprised and shocked even more than the terrorists to witness our nation go into action and call her young to sacrifice and honor. We were shocked and awed to see so many young and talented men and women unselfishly signing up to fight for their country. Our greatest natural resource will never be our machines but the young and brave who use them! May America always treasure and cherish its greatest natural resource: her people, her children.
Many of the victims on September 11th were Catholics. Many of the heroes on September 11th were Catholics. A Catholic man is known to have started and lead the rebellion in one plane (United 93). After praying the Our Father, his last words were, “Let’s roll!” This is the modern equivalent of Christ’s words in Gethsemane, “Get up! Let us be on our way!”
The vast majority of rescue workers that died that day were Catholics - either Italian or Irish Catholics. But the tragedy united a city and a nation regardless of creed or race. When Ed Koch, the former mayor of New York City, learned of the tragedy, he immediately went to St. Patrick’s Cathedral, lit a candle and wept and prayed for his beloved City and her heroes.
Many of us thought that God had been banned from the public square. But after September 11th, the United States of America immediately became a house of prayer! Like the Day Christ died on the cross, what turned out to be a tragedy may have very well become a blessing. America is not the same nation it once was. We should remember the sacrifices of the dead and the faith and resolve of the living more than replaying the terrorist's cowardly acts! May we never take revenge. May we be confident in our God. May we never seek the destruction of our enemies, but seek their conversion. May we be honest in our motives, sincere in our devotion and may we never be ashamed to be a house of prayer! May we never cease to ask God to bless America.