Ten years have passed since the terrorists attacked us. We were taken by surprise. We were shocked. We were wounded. We were grievously wounded. Evil had had its moment of triumph in Lower Manhattan.
This is, therefore, an anniversary that stings and sears the soul. It thrusts us back into an experience of infamy such as none of us would ever have imagined. Thousands of good and decent citizens of Greater New York were brutally murdered. An ugly chasm was dug into the heart of our City; and in the hearts of countless mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, wives and husbands, children and grandchildren, friends and co-workers, there even now aches the nagging pain of loss for persons dearly loved and sorely needed...
All the same, from the crime of September 11th, 2001, we have learned a powerful lesson that we must never let slip from our memories. It is simply this. When truly challenged, the best of us forget ourselves and become men and women for others, men and women who march into harm’s way for others, men and women who are even willing to give up their lives for others.
In a bustling, competitive metropolis like ours, the citizenry can become quite self-absorbed. “If you can make it here, you can make it anywhere,” we sing; and “making it” is understood to require focus --focus largely on ourselves.
Thus, in our strivings and struggles, we can seem to be a people insensitive to the needs of others, a people who take little note of the weak, the frightened, and the hurting. And this is what many thought of us, until that dreadful morning when the terrorists came to do us harm.
Then we learned –-perhaps even to our own surprise –- that within the hearts of the best of us there resides a goodness that is incredibly selfless. We learned that, when summoned by great events, we become in great numbers remarkably committed to the well-being of others, even total strangers. We become a strong people, a courageous people, a noble people – a people for others.
Cardinal Egan went on to tell the stories of real heroes who gave so selflessly of themselves on that day, and in the days that followed:
The terrorists accomplished their heinous purpose. We cannot deny the immense and long-lasting harm they have done. Nonetheless, their evil begot a lesson in goodness that can never be repeated enough or meditated enough. Here in this City, when challenged by the most horrendous of events, men and women just like ourselves exhibited a love of neighbor beyond anything any of us might have expected. They proved how strong and noble we can be and gave us a measure against which to judge ourselves and our way of life throughout the years that lie ahead.
Read the homily in its entirety HERE.