In Remembrance, Overwhelming Grace
I was interested in writing this piece because of this Sunday’s date, September 11, 2022. Twenty-one years after the attack on the New York City World Trade Center, the Pentagon in Washington D.C., and a fourth plane, presumably headed for the White House or the U.S. Capitol, was diverted by passengers and ended up crashing in an empty field in Pennsylvania. For my generation, this was our Pearl Harbor. A cataclysmic event that changed our personal history. For all of us, it is impactful to this day, with what we know as terrorism, and perhaps even to some extent violence and other biases within our communities.
And in that context, we head off to Mass and hear some very interesting readings – readings most recall with great familiarity - that at first blush appear to have little in common with the terrifying, startling, and humbling events of September 11, 2001. And yet . . . .
The first reading we hear from Exodus 32 when God had every right to be angry at his people for the horrific things that had been done – they had “become depraved” - He still relented and as our Responsorial Psalm reinforces, He has mercy on His people. Then in 1 Timothy 1, we are reminded of the other side of St. Paul’s life, and despite his transgressions, St. Paul was “mercifully treated”.
Finally, in a Gospel reading from Luke 15 that leads to the classic saga containing not one but three parables ending with the story about the lost son, we are reminded that if we move along through life, not robotically like I imagine the older son did, but with joy, acceptance, thanksgiving, and do what is asked of us, not expecting reward, that someday, everything will be ours in heaven. Am I worthy of that? I fear not. It is an overwhelming thought to be given so much.
Did all those thousands of unsuspecting people that went to work 21 years ago in New York and Washington D.C. get everything in heaven from their Father? How about those people on that plane over Pennsylvania?
May all the souls of the dearly departed rest in peace. May all of us graced with life today truly enjoy this day that we have been blessed with and experience a renewed confidence in our merciful Lord who sent us His only begotten son into this world to save sinners all of us.