The September 11 Sermon by Fr. Michael Perry

This is the sermon l gave at a Mass for 250 fire fighters  on September 11


A lot has happened in the 20 years that have passed when so many people were murdered in A violent act of hate.
Boys became men
Girls became women
And love brought them together to become husband-and-wife
And then in love they became parents

Life goes on and love has conquered
But as life has gone on
Our 343 dead heroes
Have seen new members join them in death;
Men and women who acted out of love that day
And died a lingering death because of it
From cancer and lung diseases and other complications caused by hate
And the falling towers.

For our bravest, responding out of a sense of duty it’s a form of love scene through the prism of brave service.

I think Jesus said it best:
Greater love than this no one has than he lay down his life for his friends.
And I’ll just take that one step further to say:
…. that he lay down his life for people he never knew and, in this life, he would never get to know.

Today, 20 years later, all of us are taking a stance against hatred even though our emotions may be still very mixed

Some of you were right there after the plane struck the towers
Some of you were children
All of you, all of us Are fighters of fires-
For some the fires with flames
And for others the fighters of those burning feelings that rage like flames and can be extinguished only by time and prayer

No one wants to live in hate
And if it is hatred that still motivates you try to remember what is written over the gates of one of the most hellish places on earth

The question is this:
Can we forgive what happened 20 years ago?

I can’t
At least not yet!

I grapple with the memories
And I know you do too.

Even you who were the terrorized people watching the planes strike over and over and over again in that loop footage that children saw in school.
And we all succumbed to the terror and the nightmares and the fear

Forgiveness takes as long to process as the wound is deep.
Our wound is very deep
343 deep
And in one sense we keep it that way because we will never forget

Meanwhile we are almost forced out of our feelings when we say the prayer thatJesus taught us .
“Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us”
Words I almost choke on on days like today
But the longer we hold onto our anger, The more power we give to those who hate us.

LET GO AND LET GOD, The saying goes
And don’t  give them the satisfaction of even thinking that you are still terrorized

I’m not asking you to love the ones who hate us. Not yet. Even though Jesus says we should
I’m asking that we love one another, yes love
One another
United under the flag
In the memory of those innocent people who died that day
And our fallen heroes

Take the power away from hate and give it up to God.
This is what we’re here for
To give it up to God who is love
The kind of love that rushes into the flames of unknown danger;
The kind of heroic love that no one knows better than you.

The kind of faithful fraternity V that will never forget
As we will never forget
Because those who were killed a day give us a reason to remember

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