September 9, 2011
Our nation is about to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks that struck the United States. There will be a moment of silence asked of all at 1 p.m. this Sunday, September 11. There will be a large number of prayer services and gatherings across the country on that day. At the same time, this Sunday, the Lord’s Day, will be a time for all of us as Catholics to gather around the Eucharistic table of the Lord and reflect on the rich and deep teachings of our faith – particularly those teachings on the meaning of peace, justice, and God’s love and healing, which shines through even the most horrific tragedies and violence.
The current state of the world and the difficulties that face us even in our country can produce a weariness and a cynicism about the reality of peace. St. Paul, no stranger to sufferings, violence and oppression, wrote his beautiful Letter to the Philippians from jail. A genuine sense of peace and joy suffuses this writing, and in one place he prays for the community, that they will be enriched by God’s peace, a peace “surpassing all understanding” (Philippians 4:7). He knew personally about what he was writing. He learned how – and the Church has continued his inspired mission – to move beyond the darkness of sorrow, the paralysis of righteous anger that will not heal and the terrible cost of resentment, to a much more excellent light of hope.
Our hearts go out anew to the victims who lost their lives, to those who were wounded on that September Day, and to their families and friends. The twin towers in New York City, the Pentagon, and Shanksville, Pa. are places of deep remembrance every year in September. There is a deep loss felt by us all, for what happens to one member of the human family grieves us all and affects us all. May the recognition of such terrible loss not lead us to despair, but to a new understanding and sense of peace.
The message of September 11 is also one of heroism and extraordinary sacrifice for the love of neighbor. The images of firemen, police, health care workers and other “heroes” of that day constantly inspire us as they show us love in action. What a sense of restored hope, of common action, of mutual love and support those heroic men and women showed and continue to show us!
The signs are all around of violence and hatred. Equally, the signs are all around of love, forgiveness and bravery on behalf of the “neighbor”: that is, everyone in need. May the peace that surpasses understanding, God’s enduring love for each of us, brighten our memories on September 11 and, during this sobering anniversary, lift us up and grant us healing.