The 20th anniversary of 9/11 is upon us. Last year when our parishioners joined hands with the Firefighters and the local law enforcement agencies and organized our annual 9/11 memorial day ceremony here in our church, only a few people showed up. That was disappointing to me and to others. The experience of 9/11 is fresh in the minds of those in their 30’s and above. They can never forget the trauma we underwent as a nation, and so we cannot allow the anniversary to be erased from our memories as the years pass by. We need to be more enthusiastic about it and make every effort to keep those memories alive in gratitude to those fallen heroes, including our fellow parishioner John Collins, and family members and friends of many in our community.
But the younger generation, especially those in their teens and early twenties, will have no idea of 9/11 except as a history lesson that could become folklore with the passage of time. That is all the more reason for us to keep this anniversary as an opportunity to enlighten our younger generation about this historic tragedy that struck our nation. They need to be present at the anniversary ceremonies so that they can understand the pain and agony – physical and emotional – of those who suffered and continue to suffer.
I am asking our parents to bring their children who are in the higher grades here at St. Matthias School to this year’s 9/11 Memorial Service in our church this coming Saturday at 2 pm. I am grateful to Bill Cullen, a former fire Chief and John Hauss, Director of the Fire Prevention Office of Franklin Township and others who are taking the lead in organizing this important event.
Desmond Tutu, the famous Anglican theologian from South Africa, said: “As human beings we have the most extraordinary capacity for evil. We can perpetrate some of the most horrendous atrocities.” 9/11 anniversary is a somber time to remind ourselves not only the truth of that statement but also that we are capable of the opposite: that we have infinite capacity to do good. We can build up instead of tear down, because we are created in God’s own image and likeness (Genesis 1:27). Hence we are capable of bringing about conditions for living in harmony and peace with all as St. Paul reminds us:
Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone…, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. On the contrary, if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink…. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (Romans 12:16-21)
God bless America!
Your brother in Christ,
Fr. Abraham Orapankal