Fifteen years ago today, we saw the twin towers at the World Trade Center fall, the Pentagon burst into flames, and an airliner crash into a field in Pennsylvania. The scenes were both heartbreaking and horrifying. And yet as terrible, sinful, and evil as this attack was (or any attack like it), it is important that we keep in mind Paul’s words in today’s second reading: “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners,” and because of his sacrificial act, everyone who repents will be “mercifully treated” (1 Timothy 1:15, 16).
Sometimes, it’s next to impossible to forgive someone, especially in those situations in which a horrible sin has been committed. But one look at the Gospel tells us that God’s entire relationship with us is based on love and mercy and forgiveness, whether it is forgiveness for the “big sins” of the prodigal son or the “minor sins” committed by his brother. All of the parables in today’s Gospel illustrate just how far God will go to seek and save the lost. It’s safe to say that people who can execute something as horrendous as a massive terror attack have lost their way. Yet God loves them; he longs to bring them into his kingdom. He yearns for them to turn away from their sins and find the mercy that is open to everyone. Closer to home, we may be struggling to forgive someone who has hurt us. It could be a devastating wound or a minor snub. But no matter how much or how little it hurts, God asks us to try our best to forgive. So try to imitate your heavenly Father today. Make a list of the relationships in your life that may be wounded or broken, and ask him for the grace to forgive. If you can’t forgive all at once, ask him for the grace to take one step closer to mercy. Every step counts!