I was a Sophomore in high school, switching classes, and a girl I knew who was heading down the hall kind of frantically, stopped for a second when she saw me and said, huffing to catch her breath, "The World Trade Center just fell."
I was 15 years old and confused. I honestly had no idea what she was talking about, and thought maybe it was something similar to the stock market crashing? Then we watched news footage in my next class. And the next class after that. And when I went home, my dad was already home (very early for him) glued to the TV. The magnitude of the event slowly sunk in... Our country had been attacked. Thousands of lives lost, injured, widowed, orphaned.... changed... forever. My mom was in Las Vegas at the time with my aunt, and I remember fearing if they would be able to fly back safely after such an event. (Praise the Lord, they did.)
As I've gotten older and been able to get a better understanding of everything that happened that day, my main emotion is just sadness. Sadness for those who were affected personally. Sadness for those who have been affected over the past ten years as a result of that day... military families who have suffered losses, first responders who suffered health issues from the dust and smoke, children who have had to grow up without their parents... And I feel a deep sadness for those who lack peace in their hearts, who have swallowed lies of intolerance, who carry hatred and vengeance as their banner... who have no respect for the dignity of human life.
Today at Mass, our pastor gave such an amazing homily. There were many elements to it, but the most moving, and challenging part of it was his call to us to not only listen to the words of Scripture, but to obey them. And the Scripture readings for today were not easy, but perhaps that's what made them so perfect for a day like today. The readings today call us Christians to a radical level of forgiveness. Since the number 7 in Hebrew meant perfection, when Peter asked Jesus "Should I forgive my brother 7 times?" he meant "Should I forgive my brother forever?" And Jesus, in his response, "You should forgive him 77 times" meant "You should forgive him forever, and indefinitely." Meaning, there is no crime any person could ever do to me that I should not forgive.
Now, that's a hard pill to swallow. But as our pastor pointed out today, Jesus does not place such a high standard on forgiveness for no reason. It is because we are ALL sinners. Not one of us is free from some guilt. Who are we to pass judgments, and harbor resentments, and seek vengeance? There's a saying that goes "With our enemies, we want to give out a God-like Justice, but with ourselves, we want to receive a God-like Mercy." The challenge, as Christians is to step back and let God, who is Perfect, be the one to administer justice and mercy according to His will.
Let us open our hearts to the freedom that is forgiveness, which opens up a path of charity towards others which can lead to healing and conversion. May God bless and comfort all those affected by 9/11.