Over the past month we’ve seen shooting after shooting, from an 18 year old white nationalist and domestic terrorist killing shoppers in a Tops grocery store, to this weeks 18 year old from Texas who for no reason killed 19 defenseless children and 2 teachers just 4 days following his birthday. Mass shootings, racist hate violence has become normative in our nation. Nothings seems to be happening in most of the country.
When there is a racist attack we quickly look to a statement from our religious and civic leaders. We talk, we pray and we keep those suffering in our thoughts and prayers. April 20th 1999 forever shifted more deeply our nation into a culture of death as we saw youth gunned down at Columbine High School. Now 23 years latter, there are still school shootings and mass shootings and young people killing and being killed. We even boldly proclaim Enough is Enough as we saw youth killing each other in our streets.
We have sunken deeper into a culture of death. We hear allot of talk about Pro-Life, but fall short of ending this culture of death. Saint John Paul II spoke of this in his visit to the United States in 1995 just 4 years prior to the Columbine he wrote:
“Choices once unanimously considered criminal and rejected by the common moral sense are gradually becoming socially acceptable,”
The unwillingness by those lawmakers to do more than offer prayers and thoughts demonstrates a willingness to regard the tragedies we experience as normal and acceptable. They have rejected common moral sense, and for sole financial gain and power refuse to do more.
Fr Paul Pider of the Diocese of Green bay gave me a gift when I was ordained that said, “Pray as though it all depended on God and work as if all depended upon you.” We’ve not moved beyond the prayers and thoughts. There is only one reason we haven’t is because many law makers are afraid of doing what they know is right because a few constituents will be upset and their afraid of loosing power.
Although Prayer is important and keeping those who suffer in our thoughts, action is required. We must have a willingness to see the lives of the innocent as valuable. One cannot be Pro-Life if they are not willing to work and act to make our society safe and protecting all life. As we applaud and celebrate efforts to end Roe verses Wade, we cannot just turn our heads to child after child killed in our schools, churches as well as places where citizens peaceably go about their daily lives. We cannot ignore hate and murder solely because of the color of ones skin or how the speak, look or simply live day to day. Whether shopping for groceries, going to a movie or simply playing in a park. Our children, families and neighbors should feel and be safe living.
Life is meant for living and we must move from Thoughts and Prayers to looking up, stepping up and acting up. To have the same passion for sensible gun regulation, ending racial hate, senseless violence against the innocent.
During the Mass of Thanksgiving celebrated at Our Lady Of Africa Catholic Church in Chicago for Fr Carl Gaines SVD, Fr Adam McDonald SVD, called us, challenged us to have an ”Ascension Attitude” that is an attitude that ”Looks Up, Steps Up and Acts Up” That is to raise our eyes from looking down and oblivious to the struggles and tragedies around us. To see that our navel gazing selfishness only concerned about our own good, needs wants and desires, while suffering children, struggling families, and seniors just can’t make ends meet requires us to now step up. Seeing the suffering, the struggles, the pain, and hate that so many face, who will step up? Who will be the voice for the voiceless, who will stand with those who cannot stand for themselves? This stepping up will by its very movement impels us to to Act up. To use our voice, to use our vote, to use our resources for the good of those who have nothing.
This weekend we are celebrating the gift of the Holy Spirit, the Advocate the Promise of Christ to empower the Church for the work of Ministry, the Work for justice.
“I have told you this while I am with you.
The Advocate, the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send in my name,
will teach you everything
and remind you of all that I told you.”
The Church must be open to continued renewal a d open to The Holy Spirit to inspire, teach and call us into a deeper commitment to the suffering and marginalized. The Spirit impelling us to confront powers and authorities that fail to Act for the good of society especially those on the peripheries who suffer and have no recourse to deal with their daily challenges. When people of faith led and guided by the Spirit of God come together with a shared vision and purpose we have to ability to transform our society to reflect the kingdom of God where all are valued, all included and all lives matter.