Its been fifteen years this Sunday since the terrible events of September 11th, 2001. The anniversary falls on a Sunday this year, which means that for us as Christians we will be gathered at the altar on that heart-breaking anniversary. Yet the altar is such an appropriate place to gather, a place where God, who loves us with such infinite compassion and mercy, wants us to confidently lay down our deepest fears and hopes, joys and sorrows before the throne of grace.
We gather to celebrate the Eucharist, which is the sign and the reality of the measure of God’s love for us, revealed in Jesus who offered himself completely and without holding back for our sake. Having lived a life for others, his body was broken for us and his and his lifeblood was poured out to break down once and for all the walls of hatred and malice that separate us from God and from each other.
Remembering this anniversary, it is impossible to ignore the human family’s alienation from God: the fire and smoke only made visible the anger and hatred burning in the hearts of those who would do such a thing to their brothers and sisters.
Yet in those same places and on that same day, we saw too the creative power of love. For me, the image of those doomed firefighters dragging their hoses up the steps of the World Trade Tower as they passed those fleeing the building, is such a profound image of the Eucharist. Do this, in memory of me, meant then and continues to mean for us, to be men and women for others, to live lives poured out in loving service without counting the cost.
Jesus, in the simple acts of eating and drinking revealed God’s power to heal us. In Jesus, at the Eucharist, enemies become friends, injuries are forgiven and peace is possible. The Eucharist reveals to us our power in Christ to cast out hatred, to forgive and be forgiven, and to love even our enemies. The sacrificial love of Jesus, which appears to be weakness itself, is always more powerful than hatred and killing, of violence and revenge.
May we open our hearts to the mystery of the mercy of God revealed to us in the One who forgave his executioners from the Cross, confident that each day that we will be transformed more and more profoundly into the image and the pattern of Jesus.