9/11 Homily: Defeating Violence Requires Knowing Christ

Bishop Gregory Speaks at Mass in D.C. Basilica

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WASHINGTON, D.C., SEPT. 12, 2002 (Zenit.org).- The fight against terrorism demands that we start by looking into ourselves, said the president of the U.S. bishops’ conference at a commemorative Mass for the victims of 9/11.

«What, then, might be the reason why men flew fuel-laden planes into buildings filled with people one year ago today?» asked Bishop Wilton D. Gregory during his homily Wednesday at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.

«The reason is that they lost the war: the war of the human heart: they embraced the darkness of death and turned from the brilliance of light,» he said.

«So often we look to the causes of war ‘out there,'» he said. «That’s relatively easy to do. ‘It’s those evil people doing those evil things.’ But St. James tells us that war is not caused by external factors, but by ‘the passions within your members,’ or, in the words of the Holy Father: ‘The human heart has depths from which schemes of unheard-of ferocity sometimes emerge.'»

Bishop Gregory, of Belleville, Illinois, continued: «War, therefore, is never truly won by those with the most potent weapons or the greatest strategic advantage. The only way you and I can ever defeat violence is to know Christ, to receive him in the Holy Eucharist, to love him, and to choose life in him. Then we will know the ‘peace the world cannot give’ and joined to Christ we will be a leaven for peace in a world burdened by violence and hate.»

He added: «The only way to combat evil, then, is to seek Christ. To enter more deeply into our celebration of these sacred mysteries which transform our poverty into spiritual riches, which satisfy our hunger, which dry the tears of all who mourn, and turn hate into joy.»

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