On September 11, 2001, nearly 3,000 people were killed and more than 6,000 were wounded in terrorist attacks on New York, Pennsylvania, and Washington. Among those killed was Father Mychal Judge, a Franciscan friar and priest, who served as Chaplain to the New York City Fire Department. He died during the collapse of the South Tower of the World Trade Center in New York City. One day before his death, Father Mike, as he was known, blessed a newly renovated fire house in the Bronx and celebrated Mass there for first responders and their families. His homily that morning would be his last. It is joyful and prophetic. It speaks through the tragedy of the attacks and their long aftermath. It transcends the agony of the dead and the grief of the living with a voice that is brimming with devotion, gratitude, and love for God. It reads like the testament of a saint. Perhaps it is just that.
Father Mike’s Final Homily
May the grace of God the Father, the peace of God the Son, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with all of you. We come to this house this morning to celebrate renewal, rejuvenation, and new life. We come to thank God for the blessings over all the years; the good work that has been done here, especially during the last few days. We can never thank God enough for the reality of the lives we have. So, standing in His presence, and truly this is a chapel, let us pause for a moment, perhaps close our eyes, and thank God for some special blessings in our own individual lives.
Let us pray. Thank you, Lord, for life. Thank you for love. Thank you for goodness. Thank you for work. Thank you for family. Thank you for friends. Thank you for every gift because we know that every gift comes from you; and without you, we are nothing. So, as we celebrate this day in thanksgiving to you, keep our hearts and minds open. Let us enjoy each other’s company, and most of all, let us be conscious of your presence in our lives, and in a special way, in the lives of all those who have gone before us. And Father, we make our prayer, as always, in Jesus’ name who lives with you forever and ever.
That’s the way it is. Good days and bad days. Up days and down days. Sad days and happy days. But never a boring day on this job. You do what God has called you to do. You show up. You put one foot in front of another. You get on the rig and you go out and you do the job, which is a mystery and a surprise. You have no idea when you get on that rig. No matter how big the call. No matter how small. You have no idea what God is calling you to do. But he needs you. He needs me. He needs all of us.
To retirees: God needs your prayers. He needs your stopping by occasionally to give strength and support and to tell the stories of the old days. We need this house and to those of you who are working now, keep going. Keep supporting each other. Be kind to each other. Love each other. Work together and do what you did the other night and the weeks and months and years before from this house. God’s blessings go forth in this community!
What great people. We love the job. We all do. What a blessing that is. A difficult, difficult job and God calls you to it. And then he gives you a love for it so that a difficult job will be done well. Isn’t he a wonderful God? Isn’t he so good to you? To each one of you? And to me! Turn to him each day. Put your faith and your trust and your hope and your life in his hands. He will take care of you and you will have a good life…Amen.
Founded in 2007, the Assisi Project is a Fellowship of Franciscans in Spirit with friends and followers throughout the world. We are dedicated to helping Christian believers of all ages more faithfully live the Gospel of Christ in the spirit of Saint Francis and Saint Clare of Assisi. The Assisi Project is a non-profit, tax exempt charitable organization. All are welcome to support our ministry via PayPal or AmazonSmile (links below); or by sending a tax-deductible donation to the Assisi Project, Post Office Box 3158, Gloucester, Massachusetts 01931-3158. For more information about the Assisi Project and our upcoming opportunities for formation, prayer, and pilgrimage, please contact Cliff Garvey at firstname.lastname@example.org. May the Lord give you peace!