Saturday, September 11, 2021, is the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Remembering this horrific day which took the lives of more than 3,000 people could create a renewed sense of fear, suspicion and even hatred toward other people. The anniversary also holds the possibility of rekindling the desire to seek better understanding among peoples leading to a world at peace.
In the Gospel, Jesus opens the ears and mouth of a man who was deaf and mute (Mark 7:31-37). The capacity to hear and speak opened a whole new world to him. Perhaps he heard music for the first time and the sound of chirping birds. He now knew the sound of the voices of his family and friends. He could communicate in a completely new way, actually speaking words with the unique tone and clarity of his own voice.
This Gospel invites us in the post 9/11 world to once again open our ears to others. For world leaders to find opportunities to listen to each other’s issues and concerns. We are living in such troubled times. The continued ferocity of the pandemic. The upheaval in Afghanistan, the destruction and human suffering caused by earthquakes and hurricanes. These and many other trying circumstances make it especially important for us to listen to what others have to say, even if it is disturbing or uncomfortable. We need to listen with greater attention to our spouses, our children and our friends.
The time is now to listen to the voice of our conscience, the cries of the disillusioned, the barely audible moans of those about to give up. Perhaps we can hear anew the voice of God. The Gospel could be calling us to speak with new voices of courage, honesty and clarity in our families, at work, at school, in the Church. Now might be the occasion to be open to an idea or point of view other than our own. What is a difficult conversation that it is time to have about a hurt or misunderstanding? This could be the moment for new words of forgiveness. Perhaps the time is now for a new conversation with God.
The victims of the terrorist attack on 9/11 can no longer hear nor speak. Now it is with our ears and our voices that a new world can be fashioned. It has been said that in a dialogue we do three things: We listen with the intention of understanding, we speak taking responsibility for what we say, and we look for God in what we hear and say. We honor those who died on 9/11 by engaging in such speaking and listening through which God will show us the way to peace.
Together in faith,
Very Rev. Christopher Smith, Rector