Monday, September 12, 2011

Homilies and 9/11

The readings for Sunday were rich in discussion of mercy and forgiveness. They looked as if they'd been planned to accompany the 10th anniversary of 9/11. Some homilists took advantage of that and others didn't. I've seen a good bit of commentary from people around the internet about this.

Our pastor didn't mention 9/11. I can easily imagine that he was avoiding getting sidetracked onto patriotism when we should be putting focus on worshiping God. I can respect that. It was a fantastic homily about mercy, forgiveness, and applying it to our own hearts.

I did my own thinking about 9/11 anyway and he may have been counting on parishioners to do that. Hannah went to the 5 p.m. mass and said that priest also didn't mention it.

It did leave me a bit sad, though, that it was the only public group I was in that day and other than a mention in the prayers of the faithful and the bulletin art, there was no acknowledgment of our feelings. The more I thought about it and engaged in an email conversation with a fellow parishioner who asked for my thoughts, I wondered that my sadness came back.

It came to me this morning that the need to acknowledge and discuss 9/11 is not about patriotism. It is about our national identity as a people. It is a blow that was struck to each one of us and which still leaves us reeling when we think of it.

The nearest I can come is in thinking of the Hebrew people exiled in Babylon.
By the rivers of Babylon,
There we sat down and wept,
When we remembered Zion.

Psalm 137
The Babylonian exile marked the Hebrew people forever. We see it in the psalms and the prophetic books. I'm not sure the U.S. has a long enough memory to be marked forever. But this close to the attacks on our innocents, we're marked, scarred, and still traumatized.

To acknowledge that is simply to state truth. To apply mercy and forgiveness as a homily topic to that event is to help us heal. If the homily is the practical application of the Gospel to our lives, this is one of the biggest things that many of us needed help with yesterday.

We're not New Yorkers but that day ... as we saw on the window of a pickup truck ... we were all New Yorkers on that day. It marks us all.

I suppose that is why I still feel sad today when I think about the missed opportunity of the homily. In a funny way I guess I was waiting to grieve with others. And didn't get the chance.

In that spirit, here is the homily I wish I'd heard (albeit utterly different in tone than our pastor would have delivered had he talked about 9/11... and that's ok too). Thank you, Deacon Greg. I needed that.

1 comment:

  1. Our pastor only touched on 9/11 anniversay in passing, too. We also had an adult confirmation sacrament as part of the Mass too. So we tended to talk about that after Mass.

    Your quote of the Psalm are very apropo too. My usual bible reading practice is to switch back and forth between Old Testament and New. I have been reading Isaiah and Ezekial. I spent some serious coin to get the Navarre Bible commentary for these books too. There is a great deal of loss and longing in those books. 9/11 anniversaries tend to make me nostolgic and sad.

    I often feel like one of those exiles in Babylon when I think about 9/11 and where this country and culture have landed ten years later.