First responders honored at Blue Mass
Recalling the horrific events of 9/11, Bishop Carl A. Kemme asked God to keep safe all the first responders who attended the annual Blue Mass Sunday morning, Sept. 11, in the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Wichita.
“On September 11, 2001, so many of us saw first hand the heroic service of first responders who rushed into those buildings to do whatever could be done to save as many lives as possible. And so, on this 21st anniversary of that tragic and telling day, we are blessed that you are here with us to pray with us and to allow us to pray for you,” he said.
Fr. Kapaun a ‘first responder’
The bishop pointed to the tomb of Fr. Emil Kapaun and explained how the Korean War hero and candidate for canonization responded heroically to the needs of his fellow prisoners of war. “May his example and intercession inspire you in the performance of your important and life-saving duties.”
The day’s readings were relevant to the Blue Mass, Bishop Kemme said.
“Moses, in the first reading, was made aware of how the people had descended into an idolatrous depravity and though their danger was not physical, it was moral and spiritual. Moses, a first responder of sorts, prayed for the people and begged God to take pity upon them and to spare them and so God did. Moses put the people first.”
In the second reading, the bishop said St. Paul reminds Timothy that Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners. “Jesus, the first responder par excellence, came to the rescue of the people to save them from their sins. And St. Paul, another first responder of sorts was called to proclaim this salvation to the Gentiles.”
Jesus also responds
The Gospel that Sunday was the parable of the lost sheep and the shepherd who leaves 99 sheep to find the one.
“The lost sheep is exceedingly vulnerable, subject to sickness, famine, and violence,” he said. “When he finds it, he sets it on his shoulders and carries the lost sheep back to the flock, inviting his friends to a party so that they can rejoice because he has found his lost sheep. The shepherd is a worthy example of the service of all first responders, leaving the security of home, family and familiar surroundings to be with people who are hurting or in some mortal danger.”
We are blessed to have first responders to call to come to our assistance, Bishop Kemme said, but we also have the greatest of all first responders: Jesus Christ, who prays to the Father on our behalf when one descends in moral or spiritual danger.
“Jesus is our Savior and has come to save us from our sins. He is the good shepherd of the flock, who will leave the 99 because they are safe and sound and go in search of the one lost sheep. Everyone who responds to the needs of others, be they police, firefighters, paramedics or EMTs or fathers and mothers, teachers, coaches, pastors, and friends, all of us respond or should respond as Jesus does with compassion and concern for the welfare of our brothers and sisters.”
Feed the hungry
Bishop Kemme said at the end of time the sheep will be separated from the goats.
“The goats he will place on his left and the sheep on his right. To those on his right, he will invite into his kingdom for when they fed the hungry, gave drink to the thirsty, visited the sick and the imprisoned, they were serving the least of their brothers and sisters, they were serving Him,” he said.
“May all that we do, whether by profession or more informally for those in need, be done because we see in them a reflection of Jesus, who has called us to serve and not to be served.”
A breakfast was served to the first responders and their families after the Mass.