Today marks the tenth anniversary of the September 11th attacks on the World Trade Center twin towers. This singular day marks a shift in reality, one from “there are people in this world who don’t like me” to “there are people who don’t like me enough to kill my father, my sister, my uncle, etc.”
War pervades our world, especially between the US and the Middle East. Yet, God is inviting us to something higher, something better, than this. When I was thinking of today, the image of La Pieta came to me.
Father Patrick first introduced me to this iconic sculpture by Michelangelo, and it really captures to me what this world needs. What if we were Mary to the world, especially to those who attacked us? We already are Mary to our loved ones and hopefully to those who are suffering especially today as they remember those they lost.
But, what if we pushed beyond this?
Let us remember this image of Jesus as he is sprawled across His mother, broken by our sin. He loved us to his death–would we die for love of our brothers and sisters?
The readings for today all speak of freedom–in the form of releasing yourself from anger, malice, and grudges. If we’re being perfectly honest, America still holds a grudge against the Middle East. As a whole–not just the Al Qaeda members. In fact, the singular event of 9/11 could be said to have been something that catapulted us into retreat. That is, everyone is ‘other’ and bad because you’re only safe if you ‘American’.
But, if there’s one prominent emotion we all feel today, it’s one of sorrow. The world is still suffering because of this massively violent act that happened ten years ago. It’s so easy to hold onto these emotions, but let’s look for the light at the end of the tunnel…that’s where God is and thus where He’s calling us to follow.
A wonderful remembrance today is held for the first reported casualty of 9/11, Fr. Mychal Judge, OFM. I never met him, but what I’ve read and heard of him speaks of a true man of God. Fr. Mychal trained Fr. Pat, and he was a man of utter joy, faith, and love. He was a true friar–ministering to people on the fringes of society.
On Sept. 15, 2001, more than 2,800 people gathered outside of St. Francis of Assisi Church for Father Mychal’s funeral. The inside of the church was reserved for family, friends and firefighters, but those in the crowd outside were people Father Mychal’s life had touched.
One young man had been picked out of the gutter by Father Mychal. He was an alcoholic, and Father Mychal helped him get treatment. He ended up getting a job, getting married and moving to England. As soon as he heard Father Mychal had died, he went to the airport and got on a plane.
“He said he owed Father Mychal his life,” Brother Ed said. “He had come upon him as a young drunk with severe alcoholism , and without him, he believed he would have died on the streets.”
In the midst of a disastrous moment in our history, it is so consoling and inspiring to know one of many stories of how God was present in the middle of seeming darkness. Fr. Mychal was one light in this world, but we all are called to be just like him. I know that you who are reading this are lights–sometimes you may not feel like you are, but the Holy Spirit is working through you. All we have to do is be free–free to love, free to let the Holy Spirit work through us, and free to be the people God calls us to be.
You know the song by All-4-One “I Can Love You Like That”? Could we love one another like Jesus on the cross loving us? In the middle of those saying “Crucify him! Crucify him!” (in the middle of hijacked planes crashing into twin towers, killing thousand of innocent people), could we persevere in love?
God gives us all we need. On this day of sorrow and remembrance, may God give all of us the Peace only He can give. May we never let the power of the evil that has transpired take hold of us. We are made for freedom, and especially on this day, let us remember this fact.
Fr. Mychal’s Prayer:
Lord, take me where You want me to go,let me meet who You want me to meet,tell me what You want me to say,and keep me out of Your way.
Don’t forget: Mass is at 6:30 pm in Daniel Chapel today!