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24th Sunday in Ordinary Time

  • 11 September 2016 |
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Adapted from the homily.

Almost at this very time fifteen years ago Jesus Christ became incarnate. He was in New York City, alive in a 24 year old man named Welles Crowther. Welles, a graduate of Boston College, was an equity trader on the 104th floor of the South Tower of the World Trade Center. When the first plane hit that morning, Welles, like the Good Shepherd in our Gospel, carried a woman on his shoulders and made his way down to the Sky Lobby on the 78th floor.

He there encountered a group of injured survivors to whom he gave firm and clear directions: “Everyone who can stand, stand now. If you can help others, do so.” He then led people down several flights to safety. What did Welles do then? He went back. He returned up to the floor and led several more groups to safety. He tied a red bandana–one he always carried–around his face for protection from the smoke and flames, earning him the moniker, "the man in the red bandana." He was on yet another rescue trip when the tower collapsed at 9:59am. Welles' body was found six months later in the rubble, alongside several firefighters. One of the survivors afterwards said this of Welles: “People can live 100 years and not have the compassion, the wherewithal to do what he did.”

Welles Crowther went after those people who were lost and hurt. He returned to the pain and suffering, just as Christ did. That was Jesus Christ with the red bandana around his face. No, we don't believe in reincarnation as Catholics. People don't reincarnate as trees or other people. But Christ does. Christ was reincarnate in Welles fifteen years ago, making ground zero not hell, but heaven on earth.

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