At this morning’s 9/11 Remembrance Chapel, Mr. Vincent Badagliacca, P’20 H’22, Upper School History Department chair, shared these important and heartfelt words with students about the importance of remembering the events of 9/11.
“It’s now been 22 years since that tragic day. For the teachers, for your parents, for all the adults in your lives, as the years pass, the challenge of 9/11 education evolves. Time passes, perspectives, attitudes, government policies, and international relationships change. And as educators, for many years now, we are confronted with the realization that none of you were alive that day.
Some would like to forget this day, this commemoration. But, here, at Sacred Heart, we choose instead to continue to seek meaning from that day. So, in planning this chapel, we hoped to outline some lessons, and hopefully pass on seeds of thought for you to develop some enduring wisdom, from a unique and tragic day that is rich in meaning for all of us.
We just heard Matthew’s account of Jesus telling the Parable of the Sower. We selected this gospel reading deliberately for the foundational wisdom and guidance it provides for us on how to live our lives as people of faith in a seemingly incomprehensible world.
In its symbolism, the parable sets forth a clear contrast between Good and Evil, the existence of which we must acknowledge and navigate in our lives. The sower seeks to produce a rich harvest of fruit, the Good. In contrast, there are useless, even harmful weeds, that infiltrate the crop and impede the work of the Sower.
"... the seed sown on rich soil is the one who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and yields a hundred or sixty or thirtyfold.”
All of us are called to understand this contrast and to live accordingly in service to God’s word. Thus, daily, there is a spectrum of behavior by which we conduct ourselves and observe in others. At each end of the spectrum are the extremes: Will we love each other, serve God and bear fruit? This is the Good. Will we be destructive, serving Evil in the world, the harmful weeds. Within those extremes, most of us sway, struggling to be and produce the fruit that is our calling. This struggle we face daily, in our interactions and decisions, in charting our own personal course, is the precious gift of Free Will which God has given us and it comes with great responsibility.
September 11, 2001 was a day which vividly illustrates this contrast, this spectrum of human behavior. Those of us who have that day seared into our memory, never to be forgotten, awakened in freedom to a glorious, azure blue September sky - cloudless and uncommonly clear; one of those invigorating early mornings that make you feel elated to be alive, a gift from God. We have all had those moments of thankfulness for this beautiful world.
A few short hours after that glorious sunrise, the images had changed more drastically than any of us could have imagined.
Clear air was replaced by raging fire, billowing smoke, and the ashes of destruction. Symbols of our nation’s strength were reduced to rubble. The blue September sky was darkened and obscured.
That fateful day, as night fell, and into the days, weeks, months, and years that followed, our emotions and our responses spanned the full range of our humanity – shock, selflessness, courage, disbelief, dismay, fear, anger, grief, loss, relief, suspicion, caution, insecurity, vengefulness, thankfulness, pride, guilt, and on, and on. . .
So, what to make of this as individuals of faith? Looking back, with the wisdom God reveals to us, we witnessed that day an astonishing contrast between Good and Evil. Sadly, this is an enduring reality for all of us to understand and navigate in our lives. All of humanity has experienced this. We cannot be overwhelmed by the existence and manifestation of Evil. As in the parable, Justice comes on God’s time. In the end, it is wise and best for each of us to first tend to our own behavioral garden; to be introspective and to listen to and hear the word of Jesus, understanding and living it, so that we bear the fruit he so patiently seeks in us.