Patriot Day is observed every September 11th to mark the anniversary of the terrorist attacks against the United States. What the date now represents has changed our lives, our nation, and our world. 9/11 has become a symbol of unspeakable evil and deep loss, of tremendous sacrifice and challenges we continue to face.
This weekend, the Church celebrates the Twenty-Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time. The scripture passages we hear this weekend offer an uncomfortable but clear challenge to us on the anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks: the challenge of forgiveness. These readings address questions of forgiveness, vengeance, and God’s mercy. In the Gospel Jesus addresses the question of forgiveness with the Parable of the Prodigal Son.
The challenges we face are: to turn to the Lord to forgive those who have wronged us; to consider what a Christian response might be in the face of evil. The teaching on forgiveness tells us the reason why we should forgive is that none of us are free from sin. We have all done wrong, yet God forgives us, and so we must forgive others.
The teaching on forgiveness is about being like God who is merciful. It is about being able to live with the peace and love instead of hate which destroys. We ask God to receive those who have died, to heal those wounded by the terrorist attacks, and to strengthen our hope in the promise of the Risen Christ. As Saint Pope John Paul II has said, “Evil … does not have the final word in human affairs.” Our task as believers is to help make this promise come true. May we never forget and continue to pray for peace.