My Homily the Sunday after 9-11

Preached at St. Mark Church the Sunday after the 9-11-01 Terrorist attacks

Homily – 24th Sunday OT C September 16, 2001

On behalf of St. Mark’s Church, I want to express my deepest condolences for all of you who have lost a relative or loved one in this week’s attacks.

We gather here at Church each Sunday, my brothers and sisters, to remember two things: to remember who God is, and to remember who we are.

It is so important, brothers and sisters, that we remember at this time who God is. Because the people who are probably responsible for these terrible crimes claim to worship the same God that we do. What’s worse, these people think that God is happy with what they have done.

So let’s stop and remember who God is: God is a loving God, and He condemns the killing of innocent people.

It is true that both we and these terrorists believe in the same God, the God of Abraham. But Cain and Abel also worshiped the same God.

And just as God was totally against what Cain did to his innocent brother, so also is God totally against what these terrorists did who claim to believe in Him.

And not only is God totally against it, but the majority of Moslems around the world are appalled at what has been done in the name of their peace loving religion.

Our God, brothers and sisters, is a God of peace. Peace I leave you, my peace I give you says Jesus. Not as the world gives, do I give.

We now know how the world gives peace, and how the world takes it away. But we need to now know that God’s peace never leaves us. No one can take away the peace that Jesus has given us. No one.

We are here to remember who God is, to remember that His peace is still with us when the world’s peace is shaken.

And we are here to remember who we are.

We are followers of Jesus. We need to be reminded of this, especially at this time.

We have been watching news all week from New York and Washington. But there has also been some news from Heaven, news from God this week, and I will share it with you.

As you know, the Scripture Readings for Mass each day are predetermined, based on the Church calendar. I want to read you the Gospel reading that was read in Catholic Churches and Anglican Communions all over the world this past Thursday, Sept. 13th: the Gospel of the 23rd Thursday in Ordinary Time:

Jesus said to his disciples: ‘To you who hear me, I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you; bless those who curse you and pray for those who maltreat you. When someone slaps you on one cheek, turn and give him the other; when someone takes your coat, let him have your shirt as well. Give to all who beg from you. When a man takes what is yours, do not demand it back. Do to others what you would have them do to you. If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. If you do good to those who do good to you, how can you claim any credit? Sinners do as much. If you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what merit is there in it for you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full. “Love your enemy and do good; lend without expecting repayment. Then will your recompense be great. You will rightly be called sons of the Most High, since he himself is good to the ungrateful and the wicked.

“Be compassionate, as your Father is compassionate. Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Pardon, and you shall be pardoned. Give, and it shall be given to you. Good measure pressed down, shaken together, running over, will they pour into the fold of your garment. For the measure you measure with will be measured back to you.” Lk 6, 27-38

There are thousands of people who didn’t want to hear those words last Thursday. Most of us here today don’t want to hear those words. But God wants us to hear those words – God wants to nip in the bud any hatred within our hearts starting to take root. Forgiveness is a process, and God wants us to start trying to forgive. We must put our anger and desire for justice in perspective.

We can be angry and want these people brought to justice, but we can’t have hatred for these people or we will become like they are.

And we especially need to beware of racism and bigotry towards Arabian people.

Again, the vast majority of Arabian people in our country and around the world are totally against these terrorist acts.

We need to remember that as Christians we are not lovers of violence.

Today at Mass, we remember who God is and who we are.

And the answer to both who we are and to who God is can be found in one place: in Jesus Christ

Second message from God came Friday, the national day of Prayer and Remembrance. That day, if you look in the missallette, the Church celebrated the Feast of the Triumph of the Cross – each year on September 14th we remember how Jesus brought great good out of the great evil of the Cross: how the tragic death of the most innocent man opened for us the gates of Heaven.

Because just as in the evil of the Cross came the great good of our redemption, so also from this great evil there has and will continue to come great good.

Great good of compassion

of people risking their lives and sacrificing to help the victims

of people giving blood and donations

of political parties working together

And hopefully we will also soon see the great good of justice being dealt to these terrorists.

And hopefully we’ll continue to see a stronger freedom, faith, and respect for the sanctity of human life among us Christians and all the citizens of our nation and of the world.

I finally want to share with you one last message from God that you may or may not have heard about.

On Friday evening, at about 7 p.m., at the end of the national day of prayer and remembrance, I was putting out this statue of Mary holding her crucified son for the Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows, which was fittingly yesterday’s Feast Day (Sept. 15th of each year).

I had to run over to the Rectory to get an iron, as I was ironing the linens, and coming out the Church door I saw out of the corner of my eye a rainbow.

And turning around I saw the most perfect rainbow I ever saw in my life. The whole bow was visible, and from where I stood our whole Church fit right under its arch.

So I ran and got Fr. Donnelly to show him, and then I called some parishioners and told them to look out their window, and finally, I ran over to Garden City Mall where there was a crowd of people in front of Applebees, Café Luna and Ben and Jerry’s just staring up at this rainbow in the sky.

And I said to them “God gave Noah a rainbow after the flood. And God said to Noah ‘this destruction will never happen again’”.

Believe what you want, but I know that at the end of that grey and rainy National Day of Prayer – at the twilight’s last gleaming – God put that rainbow over our Church Friday. And God is going to keep that rainbow there so long as we keep God’s love in our hearts. Because that is who God is.

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