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,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.
There we sat down and wept,
When we remembered Zion.
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.