Frj82’s Blog

September 11, 2011

September 11th Brotherly Love

“Which of these three, in your opinion, was neighbor to the man who fell in with the robbers?” The answer came “The one who treated him with compassion.”  Words are taken from the Holy Gospel according to Luke. 

Today is the Solemnity of Brotherly Love in the Polish National Catholic Church…but we can all be honest today and feel that trembling in our hearts, the lumps in our throats and the tears welling up in our eyes when we watch or read anything about that fateful day ten years ago.

September 11, 2001 certainly seems like yesterday in some ways, a life time in other ways.  I spent quite a bit of time watching videos, looking at pictures and reading stories this weekend about 9-11 and its amazinghow much it still hurts to see those images and hear those stories, how fresh and real everything becomes.

I remember that lifetime ago when, at the year anniversary in 2002, the town I was from had a remembrance service, as a few family members of residents were killed in the attacks.  My father had a prayer or reading during the service and the whole family went along.  For whatever reason, I was home from college that evening and refused to go to the service.  The only reason I could think  of why was the fact that I was a macho 19 years old and didn’t want to risk the chance that someone might see me tearing up.

Home alone for a couple hours, I watched the baseball game and the tribute that Major League Baseball did – Patriotic, stirring, emotional, and leaving the players a bit dazed and looking like they
wanted to go home.  I watched, I cried, and I felt guilty for not going to that prayer service, that so many people helped put together to support each other and to come together as a community.

Years later I find myself a college graduate, an ordained priest, and a husband.  I look at that guilt that I had when I didn’t attend that service and again wonder how I was so naïve.

Yesterday, as I was hearing confessions from the youth, I realized that most of them weren’t even born when that happened.  There they were, kneeling before God’s Holy Altar, praying and conversing…and I realized that everything that was said about a nation’s recovery was true.  Life had to go on – we still have to love, we still have to work, and we still have to enjoy our lives.

Although terrorists stole the innocence and trust of many, they couldn’t do it all.  People didn’t let our country, our church crumble.  They were both still there when needed.  On this, the feast of Brotherly Love, we recognize above all that love that God has for all of us, in that we are all his children.

In the first Letter of Saint John today, we hear specifically that commandment from God “Whoever loves God must also love his brother.”  We all gather in church whenever we can to tell God through prayer, devotion, adulation, and even silence that we love him.  We tell him we love him in so many different ways, let alone throwaway phrases like “thank God I wasn’t visiting New York that day,” or “Thank God I left a bit early, the car behind me got in a bad accident.”

To be good Christians, we have to remind ourselves to show that appreciation to our neighbor, our brother, as well.  One of my favorite books growing up was “Sideways Stories from Wayside School.”  I always remembered a quote “you need a reason to be sad: you don’t need a reason to be happy.”  Such it is when we show our personal emotions.

We don’t need any reason to show our love to those around us – we should because we can.  We are so blessed to be where we are – living in a free nation, a safe city, a roof overhead, food available, companionship a few steps, phone call or mouse click away.  We can go worship when we want wherever we want – something that could not be said throughout human history.  We are blessed!

Christ advises us gently today to simply show our brother compassion, the same way that most blessed Samaritan in his parable today did.

We don’t want to be like that priest orLevite that walked past the bruised and battered man on the road to Jericho…just like I never want to be that 19 year old kid who skipped out on that September 11th prayer service.  In fact, in an idea of scripture come to life, there are Good Samaritan laws that punish us for not dealing with those who are suffering with compassion or mercy.

Is there still crime, hatred, and fear in this world?  Of course there is.  I’m as guilty of that hatred as anyone else – just a few months ago, Osama Bin Laden was killed for many reasons, including his
role in the destruction of lives on 9-11.  I am honest enough to say that I was not disappointed by this turn of events.

Did it give me personal closure?  I cannot honestly say…and although not the most wholesome thought, I hope that it at least helps mend the wounded hearts of some today.  Jesus urges us to live in love…not human emotion like revenge or retribution.

We are all good Christian people here today – we have offered prayers for those today whose decade-old wounds have been reopened just a bit.

Pray for the healing of fragile hearts today, for the souls of those lost to tragedy at this moment 10 years ago.  But above all, pray that the love of God may be reflected on all of us, that we take the advice of our Lord and Savior, who told us today to treat everyone with that love and compassion.  Amen.

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