There are days when God’s word speaks so directly to me that it would be a sin not to acknowledge it. Today is definitely one of those days.
It’s no coincidence that today, the ten year anniversary of the most appalling act of terror our country has experienced, the Mass readings and Gospel are on forgiveness.
The first reading is Sirach 27:30-28:7
Wrath and anger are hateful things,
yet the sinner hugs them tight.
The vengeful will suffer the LORD’s vengeance,
for he remembers their sins in detail.
Forgive your neighbor’s injustice;
then when you pray, your own sins will be forgiven.
Could anyone nourish anger against another
and expect healing from the LORD?
Could anyone refuse mercy to another like himself,
can he seek pardon for his own sins?
If one who is but flesh cherishes wrath,
who will forgive his sins?
Remember your last days, set enmity aside;
remember death and decay, and cease from sin!
Think of the commandments, hate not your neighbor;
remember the Most High’s covenant, and overlook faults.
The bold section is the part I wanted to highlight. 9/11 was the greatest tragedy this generation of Americans has seen; there is no doubt about that. Of course, many were and are still angry at the terrorists, letting their fury consume them. The initial reaction from our entire country was that we needed to start kicking @$$ and punish those who had shaken us to our core. Our government has taken the necessary actions in trying to protect us from another attack, and those who lost their lives are honored today and every day.
However, it is clear from this passage, that God is calling each one of us to forgive in our own hearts. Forgive those who hate us. It seems contrary to instinct – our minds say, But this is righteous anger! How can we just let this go?
I still believe we should never forget what happened, and we should honor all those who died as heroes for our country. I just don’t think we need to carry around any hate for others in our hearts, even for those who have committed heinous acts. I hate what the terrorists did. I hate that they killed, maimed, and destroyed our sense of security. I hate their actions, but I forgive them in my heart because that’s what God tells us we need to do.
So – Could anyone nourish anger against another and expect healing from the LORD? No. Although my sins may not be as treacherous or as apparent as the sins of the terrorists, if I am to receive God’s forgiveness, I need to forgive others.
Just remember, our God is just, and we don’t need to keep anger or hate in our hearts for the terrorists. God will take care of them. The vengeful will suffer the LORD’s vengeance, for he remembers their sins in detail.
The Gospel is Matthew 18:21-35. Part of that reading says:
Peter approached Jesus and asked him,
“Lord, if my brother sins against me,
how often must I forgive?
As many as seven times?”
Jesus answered, “I say to you, not seven times but seventy-seven times.”
We are all called to be more like Christ, toward holiness. If we truly want to be like Him, we need to forgive. Today, I am starting by forgiving the terrorists. Each day, I want to examine my own heart and figure out if I am carrying any resentment toward anyone in my own personal life and really start forgiving and letting things go.
On the anniversary of such tragic events, will you take time to start to forgive those who have hurt you?