It was a quiet morning as the world woke to yet another day. It was my first year of seminary, and I was still trying to get used to the schedule, and my new way of life. I was off to a class at Boston College focusing on Russian History. As I emerged from the class the campus was eerily quiet, and I had no knowledge of what had happened. I got in my truck to return to the seminary campus and I heard the events taking place. It was like "War of the Worlds" taking place right before me. I could not understand what was happening.
I drove the short distance across Commonwealth Avenue, parked, and ran up the stairs to my fourth floor room and switched on the television in time to see the first of the Towers come down. I watched in horror and thought of the lives that were lost and what was going to happen next. I was still serving in the Massachusetts Army National Guard and I needed to check in to see what we were going to do. The lines were jammed and I could not get through.
I joined my brother seminarians in the common room on our floor and continued to watch the events of the day. Another plane was in the air and no one knew where it was. Washington, D.C. was being evacuated, the Prudential Building and John Hancock buildings in Boston were being evacuated. Flights were forced to land and America changed forever!
Since the events of that day much has changed. I have finished seminary and I have been an ordained Orthodox Priest for seven years. I also have the honor and privledge of serving as a Fire Department Chaplain serving those who serve. I have also lost friends in the wars that have continued since that day. It is at times like these that I turn to the Gospels. The message of the Gospels is all about love of neighbor and forgiveness and how important both of these are in the lives of Christians.
Sunday will be the 10th anniversary of those events and the television will show the footage as we watched it unfold 10 years ago. I will stand in the pulpit and preach on that day a message of love and forgiveness as Jesus commanded us. Hatred has no place in the heart of the Christian, hatred is what brought down the Towers in New York, the walls of the Pentagon, and also led to the crash of that plane in Shanksville, PA. Hatred is what causes events such as this to take place, but love is what helps us to heal.
Hatred darkens the soul and hatred makes us no better than the men who caused these events to happen. Hatred comes from the Evil One and has no place in the life of a Christian. Hatred is easy, love and forgiveness is difficult. But Jesus commands us in the Gospel of St. Matthew:
"But I say to you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which spitefully use you, and persecute you;"
We have to do this!
Hatred is a cancer that will eat away at our soul. Hatred leads to hatred and again I say this has no place in the life of a Christian. It is not easy to love those who hate us and I submit this is the hardest part of being a Christian, but we must love our neighbor after all that is what the life of the Christian is all about!
Forgiveness does not mean to forget and we must never forget the events of that day in September ten years ago. We must never forget those who lost their lives that day and that days following. We must never forget! In the Orthodox Memorial Service that we will serve on Sunday we sing Memory Eternal for all of the dead. We cannot let their memories die, we must never forget.
As we look back on the events that morning in September, as we remember the feelings we had as we watched our country change, let us remember those who gave their lives and let us forgive. Only forgiveness will help us to heal and healing is what we all need.