Today is the 10th anniversary of that infamous 9/11 attack. We look to that dreadful day when, a decade ago, 3,000 lives perished as a result of a well-orchestrated terrorist act. The war on terror and the death of Osama Bin Laden became the retaliation of the Western world to Muslim terrorists. But as so many things have taken place in a decade, why is it that the papers continue to speak of the US facing new threat on the 10th year of 9/11?
I find it so providential that the 10rh anniversary of 9/11 should fall on that Sunday when the word of God teaches us about retaliation and mercy. The initial international response to the terrorist act was a war on terror. Undeniably, this is an act of retaliation. Call it by so many other names, justify it with so many reasons, but the war on terror will always be a retaliation against the attack that killed so many lives. But the question is: has retalliation accomplished its goal? Is it working? Is it right?
The Book of Sirac speaks in very clear terms against revenge: “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.” Our desire for retaliation stems from the false impression that healing comes with revenge. However, even the relatives who witnessed the execution of their loved ones’ assailant would confess that the death of the criminal does not fill in the vacuum left by the crime in their lives. The word of God gives us the only legitimate option that assures healing to any damage created by injustice: that solution is forgiveness. “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, and seek pardon for his own sin? If one who is but flesh cherishes wrath, who will forgive his sins?” The Lord himself brings out the necessity of forgiveness:”I forgave you your entire debt because you begged me to. Should you not have had pity on your fellow servant, as I had pity on you?”
Healing does not begin when you have gotten even with your enemy. Healing begins with forgiveness. “Unless each of you forgives your brother from your heart, so will my heavenly Father do to you.” Oftentimes, we still feel the pain despite getting even because we continue to nourish anger against the unjust one. But instead of harbouring that grudge against the offender, why not simply forgive and live everything to God? Remember that we have our own debts to pay to the Lord. We ourselves are in need of his mercy. If you need mercy, then be merciful because Jesus himself says: “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.” “Remember your last days, set emnity aside; remember death and decay, and cease from sin. Think of the commandments, hate not your neighbot; remember the Most High’s covenant, and overlook faults.”
Perhaps this is the reason why the war on terror goes on with no end in sight. We stubbornly stick to a paradign of revenge that has accomplished nothing but further damage to the world. By doing so, we dig more graves, deeper graves for more dead. We still refuse to try forgiveness as a genuine step to healing, peace, and real security. Peace continues to be elusive because we never turn to mercy. Jesus himself said to St. Faustina: “Mankind will not have peace until it turns in trust to My mercy.” (Diary, 300).
We ought to get back the dimension of the sacred in the liturgy. The liturgy is not a festivity; it is not a meeting for the purpose of having a good time. It is of no importance that the parish priest has cudgeled his brains to come up with suggestive ideas or imaginative novelties. The liturgy is what makes the Thrice-Holy God present amongst us; it is the burning bush; it is the Alliance of God with man in Jesus Christ, who has died and risen again. The grandeur of the liturgy does not rest upon the fact that it offers an interesting entertainment, but in rendering tangible the Totally Other, whom we are not capable of summoning. He comes because He wills. In other words, the essential in the liturgy is the mystery, which is realized in the common ritual of the Church; all the rest diminishes it. Men experiment with it in lively fashion, and find themselves deceived, when the mystery is transformed into distraction, when the chief actor in the liturgy is not the Living God but the priest or the liturgical director. - Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger (Chile, 1988)
Do we still need sacred space, sacred time, mediating symbols? Yes, we do need them, precisely so that, through the "image," through the sign, we learn to see the openness of heaven. We need them to give us the capacity to know the mystery of God in the pierced heart of the Crucified. - Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger (Spirit of the Liturgy )