This Sunday we will commemorate the 15th Anniversary of 9/11. Those of us who were alive at that time remember so clearly where we were when we heard that airplanes hit the towers and then when the towers fell. 9/11 and the subsequent wars have left a deep scar in our country’s psyche. We cannot forget, nor shouldn’t we. We should not forget the attack, nor forget all the outpouring of acts of kindness and bravery of first responders, people at the scene, and other ordinary citizens that 9/11 prompted.
One example is that of Fr. Mychal Judge, who was a chaplain of the New York City Fire Department. Although off duty, he ran to the stricken site. It is said he removed his protective gear to pray better with a dying firefighter and he too, was struck by falling debris. He is the first officially recorded fatality of 9/11. When he was eulogized, his friend said the reason for this is that it was Fr. Mychal’s nature to want to be there, with the Lord, greeting everyone to heaven and making them welcome.
We all remember stories, good and bad, from 9/11. We all have our scars from that day and the days that follow. We remember too that Jesus had scars from his crucifixion, and it was through these scars that the disciple Thomas recognized him. Moreover, Jesus chose to be identified thorough the scars of his suffering. In his glorified body, he did not miraculously make them vanish. He kept his scars as a reminder of the price he paid for us and of his great love for us.
The task for us is to allow our scars to be transformative for healing and growth. Fr. Mychal would not want us to be trapped in anger or fear. “His whole ministry was about love” it was said about him. So as we tend our scars from 9/11, let us put them in the scarred hands of Jesus, and pray they we might be transformed according to the will of God, to be just, loving, righteous, merciful instruments of grace in our world.
Let us make our life a ministry of love.
Prayer: God of Justice and Love, we place the scarring events of 9/11 in your scarred hands. Guide us to use our scars and pain to heal others in your name. Amen.