“When we listen to the consoling yet challenging words of Jesus we find not just an ethical or moral system, but a whole vision of the purpose of life. Jesus came to reveal to us who his Father is, and therefore who we are. As we come to know our relationship to God, we come to know our role in life,” he said.
“We are to live in solidarity with one another recognizing that only if we put on the ‘new person’ — this new man or new woman in Christ — is there any hope for peace,” the cardinal continued.
While bringing violent perpetrators to justice is beyond most individuals, what everyone can do is renew his or her personal commitment to “bring that peace to our world, our community, our families, our lives – peace that is rooted in God’s plan and in that justice to which he calls all of us.”
“Love does conquer hatred,” he insisted, stressing the need to banish “those things that are sources of division: ethnic and racial bias, religious bigotry, political opportunism.”
“Do not let the darkness extinguish the light. Do not let hatred smother love,” he encouraged the congregation.
On the West Coast, Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles addressed congregants at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels. He remembered a “moving moment” in the aftermath of the attacks: the discovery of a huge cross-shaped beam in the ruins of New York City’s World Trade Center buildings.
“Ten years later, this cross reminds us that Jesus Christ is with us always, even in the midst of the evil in the world and the suffering and difficulties in our lives.”
He said Christians should ask God to “bring lasting good from out of this evil.”
“Let us ask that he inspire in all the people of this great country, a new spirit of fellowship, reconciliation and common purpose.”
The archbishop spoke of Jesus’ call to forgive sinners and at the same time his will that we “work with his grace to help repair the damage that is done by their sin – in our personal lives and in our society.”
Archbishop Gomez said that since Sept. 11, America seems “less unified and more divided” with a culture and politics that seem “more angry and judgmental.”
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He said that Jesus “calls us to forgive those who do evil.”
“But he also wants us to work in love to fight injustices in our world. And our world needs to know a new spirit of forgiveness and mercy.”
Kevin J. Jones is a senior staff writer with Catholic News Agency. He was a recipient of a 2014 Catholic Relief Services' Egan Journalism Fellowship.