WILMINGTON — Police officers and other first responders should not be afraid to ask for help, and they need to know they are not alone while they do their jobs. That was the message from Bishop Koenig to a small group of uniformed officers and their supporters at the annual Blue Mass, held Oct. 7 at St. Elizabeth Church in Wilmington.
During his homily, the bishop thanked those in attendance for “helping create a community where we can live as a family” and noted that their work is often taken for granted.
“Our words of gratitude are only equaled by our fervent prayer that you and all first responders be kept safe.”
In the first reading, from Paul’s letter to the Galatians, the bishop said Paul is agitated by the news that people from his area were starting to believe they could be saved by following Jewish law. That may not have much relevance today, but the message comes down to something much more basic. That is believing whether we need God or not, whether we can do this by ourselves, the bishop said.
The temptation that Paul saw in the Galatians continue to this day, Bishop Koenig told the congregation. He praised the first responders for giving of themselves totally to help others, often saving lives. But he said his prayer for them is that they know they are not alone.
“My prayer for you is that you look to God for strength when you are tired, that you look to God for courage when you are afraid, that you look to God for direction when you are confused,” he said.
One of the benefits of looking to others is that we can benefit from the gifts and talents others have. He has seen that since becoming the bishop in the Diocese of Wilmington.
“I have come to understand how important it is to have these people in my house. I encourage you to be mindful that you don’t do it alone,” he said.
Bishop Koenig told the story of a former seminarian in New York City who left to get married and became a firefighter. On the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, he was on his way to a call when he heard the first plane hit the World Trade Center. Once at the towers, the firefighter, now a battalion chief, met up with a deputy chief who had a very analytical mind and was good at making split-second decisions. The men complemented each other because each had talents the other did not.
The same goes for personal challenges, he continued. Jesus’ presence is always available, he told the first responders. In the Gospel reading at the Mass, Jesus said that people need to make a decision. If they expel certain demons from their house, they need to fill it with something else or the demons will return.
“It’s Jesus’ way of saying to the people of his day, and reminding us, that we need to choose,” he said. “We need to choose to allow God in. We need to choose to allow others in.”