When we celebrate the Eucharist together on Sunday, September 11, 2011, we will already have been surrounded by vivid reminders of the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks in the United States. How should Christian stewards commemorate this anniversary?
Catholics embrace a diversity of thought regarding armed conflict and war on terrorism, ranging from variations of the just war tradition to varying degrees of pacifism. They hold a deep appreciation of our uniformed men and women who serve at home and abroad.
On a darker note, after ten years, armed conflict has not yielded the intended results. Thousands of U.S. service personnel have died or been injured. American ideals have become too readily compromised. There is political disunity. Pre-emptive wars are now considered morally acceptable. And there exists a moral numbness to the killing of innocents who live in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq.
As we gather around the Lord’s Table on September 11, we will hear sobering expressions during the proclamation of the Word of God: Could anyone nourish anger against another and expect healing from the Lord? And, I say to you, you must forgive not seven times but seventy-seven times. Jesus, the prophet Sirach, and Saint Paul taught us how not only to overcome evil, but to redeem it.
Christian stewards, as active instruments of God’s mercy, understand the redemptive quality of living the Gospel. Indeed, Christian stewards understand that the cessation of violence and armed conflict can only be realized when God’s peace and justice are pursued for the entire human family.
The anniversary of 9/11 and the October 6 invasion of Afghanistan offer an opportunity to re-think how Christian stewards respond to violence and conflict. This response begins with prayer: prayer for the victims and their families; for the innocents who continued to suffer and die long after 9/11; for peace in the world; even for those we consider our enemies.
Christian stewards do not stand idly by, helpless or disengaged. They open their hearts to conversion and draw closer to those who suffer. They seek ways to diffuse violence and conflict. They seek to understand those with whom they disagree. They encourage leaders to act with prudence and compassion. Christian stewards remember those who have been lost and memorialize this day by re-committing their lives to following in the footsteps of Jesus to make the world a better place.
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