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Gratitude for military, first responders at 5th annual Mass

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Bishop Michael F. Burbidge expressed “profound gratitude” to first responders and those serving in the military at the Fifth Annual Mass for Military and First Responders Sept. 13 at St. Leo the Great Church in Fairfax. He thanked those gathered “for your courageous, generous and heroic service, especially during these tense and challenging times.”

The annual Mass takes place in conjunction with the anniversary of the terror attacks of 9/11 and is hosted by the Fr. Walter F. Malloy Assembly No. 1894 of the Knights of Columbus in Fairfax. It is an opportunity to pray for, honor and thank those serving on the front lines. Military personnel and first responders were invited to attend in dress uniform with their families.

In a homily focused on forgiveness, Bishop Burbidge quoted from the Book of Sirach: “Wrath and anger are hateful things and sinners cling to them.” He said that in the line of duty, “all first responders and those in military service see the consequences when people cling to anger and wrath and refuse to forgive one another. It leads to a lack of reverence for human life and the dignity of each and every person. It leads to violence in homes and on the streets. It leads to fierce rhetoric and harsh divisions. Regrettably at this moment in time, we see such sad consequences daily throughout our country and communities.”

He said in response, in the words of Sirach, we must “ ‘Forgive your neighbor’s injustice.’ Note it does not say condone, accept or ignore the injustice but rather forgive your neighbor. This is also the lesson of the parable Jesus told in the Gospel: Our Lord and Master, while not condoning our sins, forgives us without end.”

Bishop Burbidge said “we who are recipients of mercy must also be instruments of mercy. It is not always easy to forgive others, especially when we have been hurt or betrayed. Yet it is always possible, with the grace of God.”

He said there is “another lesson to be learned as we encounter injustice in our midst and the failures of others. Within any group or organization, individual members will at times fail to be faithful to the sacred duty entrusted to them, including bishops, priests, first responders and those in the military. We can never condone an act that is evil or immoral or behavior that fails to keep the promise and pledge that individuals have made. At the same time, we must never connect the mistake of an individual to an entire group. Unfortunately, that often happens, even in regard to those who risk their lives daily for our protection. For that reason, we ask God to grant them perseverance and the help they need to remain strong and steadfast.”

Find out more

Watch the video from the Mass at youtube.com/watch?v=j19WKIzxlJs&feature=youtu.be

 

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2020