Third Sunday of Easter 2007
Acts 5:27-32, 40b-41
The homily I had prepared for this weekend has taken a back seat in light of the tragedy this week at VA Tech. We have been bombarded with images and sounds from the media and it has been numbing to say the least. It has been asked of us priests here to announce where there will be ecumenical prayer vigils for the victims. I am glad to do that. However, I must add that it has caused me to think hard about a few things.
Here are some of the things I have been pondering. Why does it take a tragedy to stir us out of our complacency? Why are we not outraged every single day at the tens of thousands of people who are victims of violence in the world? Why do we immediately start playing the blame game after there is a tragedy? Why do politicians always use tragedies as a way to stump for votes? Why does it take a tragedy to get us to pray?! Why don't we pray daily for peace and an end to violence against all life? Why don't we respect ALL life?!
I must admit to feeling more than a bit cynical today. Why? Why? Why? Indeed, why do we always act so surprised when something bad happens and then immediately ask this whopper of a question, 'How could God let something like this happen'? I have received numerous calls asking me that question. And here is, I believe, the answer to that. God DOES NOT let these things happen. WE HUMANS DO. Our sinfulness, our brokenness, our disregard for life, that is what allows tragedies, violent acts to happen. God doesn't allow these things. These are acts committed by human beings and not God. We cannot blame God for what a human being does.
I am also asking myself the question of why am I not outraged every single day over the utter lack of respect for life? What am I doing to be a source of hope and change in the world? Why am I complacent and desensitized? As a human being I am part of either the solution or the problem. We all are.
The papers have been full of editorials with people pontificating on who is to blame and I must say that I found them to be rubbish. I know that I will get some folk mad at me for saying this but I was utterly horrified by numerous writers assertion that if we had let our college students carry guns on campus then this tragedy would not have happened! I mean, come on! I don't know about you but I painfully remember my college years. A college student is not always the most calm, rational thinking person. The college years are hard enough as one grows into adulthood without adding guns to the mix. Can you imagine hormonally charged, alcohol fueled parties where students are carrying guns?! Imagine what would happen at out of control college parties fueled by alcohol and toss in some bullets! That thought is enough to make me drive to the university where my middle nephew attends and pack him up and never let him go back! I do not want any of my nephews, now or in the future, to be subject to a campus like that. I don't want them to have to try and get an education at The OK' Corral worried that if they tick someone off they will fire a gun at him. It's insanity.
Why do we jump to violence as the solution to violence? Why do we think that killing is the solution for killing? We can look to the Bible to see that this type of thinking doesn't get us very far. We can look at our own history and see that!
I do not stand here today and claim I have a solution. As long as there are people on this planet there will be violent acts committed. For some reason, in general, we tend to pick and choose who we think is worthy of life. Without a consistent ethic of life, we will always pick one group as worthy of life and another as not worthy. That is the ultimate tragedy. All life from conception to natural death is to be respected and protected. God does not pick and choose who is worthy or not and wipe out "these people" over "those people" so why do we think we can? As God loves us, so are we to love one another. That is the only way things will ever get better. All life must be respected. That is what Jesus commanded when he said we must love God with all our heart, mind and soul and our neighbor just as God has loved us.
Jesus asks Peter if he loves him. Peter has to tell Jesus three times, not for Jesus to understand but so that Peter himself can understand. Loving Jesus means that we are to love one another and serve one another. As Christians we are commanded by Jesus to treat one another as Jesus has treated us. That is hard to accept at times but it isn't optional. ALL LIFE from conception to natural death is sacred. If we do not attempt to live that way, then we cannot expect things to get better and we better stop blaming God for our own messes.