Ten years ago today our world changed forever. In 2 or 3 short hours terrorists killed over 3000 innocent and unsuspecting people and devastated the lives of all who loved them. The vast majority perished at the World Trade Center in New York City, others in Washington DC, and still others in a field in Pennsylvania.
9-11, just three numbers, 9-1-1, the numbers that mark the greatest emergency in the history of our nation, for they mark a day that America was attacked on its own soil.
- On this day, we remember the victims, the thousands who died in the attack.
- On this day, we remember survivors, those who still suffer the effects of 9/11, widows who are raising children alone and parents who will never hold their children again.
- On this day, we pray that the hearts of those who wish us evil may be converted — and we hope to have the power and the will to forgive them.
Dearly beloved, we are living in a post 9/11 world. We have seen the evil that people can do, and we have seen the spirit of sacrifice and service in ordinary people.
As a priest, on 9/11 and after, I saw the Greatness of America in the Bravery of Victims;
- in the heroism of first responders who laid down their lives to save others;
- in the compassion of people who stepped forward to help those they had never met;
- and in the generosity of millions of Americans who enriched our country with acts of service and kindness.
Since then, we all have seen the Greatness of America further demonstrated in the courage of our brave men and women in uniform who serve and sacrifice in Afghanistan, in Iraq, and around the world to advance freedom and prevent terrorist attacks on America.
The terrorist attacks on New York and Washington prompted millions to ask: Where was God on September 11? Why didn't He act to prevent such an evil?
Well, I know where my God was the morning of September 11, 2001, and He was very busy.
- He was in the acts of countless people who that day lived those words of St. Paul to the Romans 14:7 "None of us lives for himself; none of us dies for himself. For if we live, we live for the Lord and, if we die, we die for the Lord”.
- He was on four commercial flights giving terrified passengers the ability to stay calm. Not one of the family members who were called by a loved one on one of the hijacked planes said that passengers were screaming in the background.
- He was busy trying to create obstacles for employees at the World Trade Center. After all, only around 20,000 were at the towers when the first jet hit. Since the buildings held more than 50,000 workers, this was a miracle in itself.
- He was holding up two 110-story buildings so that two-thirds of the workers could get out. And when the buildings went down, my God picked up 2,753 of his children from the World Trade Center and 184 at the Pentagon and carried them home with Him — reassuring his frightened children that the worst was over and the best was yet to come.
That is where God was on Sept. 11
- He sent His children who are best trained for this disaster and had them save the few that were still alive, but unable to help themselves.
- God was in the more than 300 New York fire fighters who entered the burning buildings of the New York Trade Center and were never seen again – or who came out in body bags.
One of them was the Catholic Priest, Fr. Michael Judge. The picture of his lifeless body being carried out by four of the firemen, is now referred to as the American Pieta, a variation of the Michelangelo sculpture of the Blessed Mother cradling her son, Jesus.
God was busy of helping people on September 11 and He still isn't finished.
- Every day He comforts those who lost loved ones.
- He is encouraging others to reach out to those who don't know Him or believe in Him.
- He is giving the leaders of our great nation the strength and conviction to do the right thing, to follow His will, not a popular poll.
Brothers and Sisters in Christ, when anyone asks you this weekend, "Where was your God on September 11th? You can say "Everywhere!", because God's miracles can be seen in every bit of it.
Those examples of selfless love are partial answers only to the question: Where was God on 9/11. Beyond such partial answers Our Faith gives us the strength to go on despite evil, injustice, suffering and tragedy.
Yes, our world changed forever on this day ten years ago. We live today in a society of constant change: in the world, in the Church, in our own personal lives. None of us can know from day to day or from year to year What Is Coming – But – We do know – Who is Coming.
His name we have all received in Baptism. His Body and Blood we receive in the Eucharist at today’s Liturgy. His uniform I wear with pride and joy, though unworthy. And about Him I joyfully proclaim to you today, because in a world of constant change there is One who never changes: “Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today, yes, and forever”.
God Bless you all. And God bless America!