On this 15th anniversary of September 11th, we remember once again the tremendous evil that befell our country and that so deeply affected so many people on Long Island. As we remember loved ones who remain precious to us, let us pray for those who continue to experience their loss and who yearn for the peace of Jesus Christ.
The Gospel for this Sunday speaks about the lost sheep, the lost coin and the lost son. In each instance Jesus says that there is more joy in heaven over one person who repents than over 99 people who have no need of repentance. It is God’s deep desire that each of us live with Him forever in heaven. In the death and the resurrection of Jesus Christ, love triumphed over evil. God’s love exploded upon the earth when Jesus Christ walked among us and gave His life in love of us.
When we look back to September 11, 2001 and bring back the overwhelming feelings of abandonment that day and the days soon after, we may very well wonder: “Where was God.” At the time there were stories of people not getting to work that day because a child missed the school bus or they were ill. People would say that God saved them from the disaster. I found such explanations to be unhelpful. If God saved this person, why did He not save others? God is not arbitrary. God is not a puppeteer pulling on the strings of life and capriciously altering the fates of our loved ones. God is love and we live in a world estranged from God through the power of evil and the possibility of sin.
Where was God on September 11, 2001? He was weeping with us. Just as Jesus suffered the anguish of Calvary and death on the Cross, Jesus was in anguish and pain on September 11th. He was not outside this world managing events and deciding people’s fates. Quite simply, on September 11th Jesus wept with us and He continues to do so today.
In the days after September 11th many parishes celebrated Masses. I was pastor at Our Lady of Grace in West Babylon. On that Tuesday evening our large Church was packed with people, all looking for a sense of comfort, a word of hope. I read the Gospel where Jesus raises His friend, Lazarus, from the dead. When Jesus arrived in Bethany and was told that His friend had died, Jesus wept. How generous and how human of Jesus, the Son of God. After reading the Gospel, I preached the shortest sermon of my life. I said: “And Jesus wept.”
To all who continue to mourn the loss of loved ones and to all who may question how evil could be so powerful, I offer the gift of peace and the presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist we celebrate each Sunday where the Prince of Peace nourishes us for love and comforts us in our sorrow, our doubts, and our fears.
May the Lord give you peace.