|1/12/2013 11:04:00 AM|
Innocents are slaughtered again and again
Catholic News Service
Crosses are seen in the snow Jan. 2 as part of a makeshift memorial in Newtown, Conn. Hundreds of children who escaped the harrowing attack on Sandy Hook Elementary School in December returned to classes for the first time Jan. 3 since a gunman killed 20 of their schoolmates and six staff members.
Catholic News ServiceHere is a reflection about the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., which appeared in The Criterion, newspaper of the Indianapolis Archdiocese.
"When Herod realized that he had been deceived by the Magi, he became furious. He ordered the massacre of all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity 2 years old and under, in accordance with the time he had ascertained from the Magi. Then was fulfilled what had been said through Jeremiah the prophet: 'A voice was heard in Ramah, sobbing and loud lamentation; Rachel weeping for her children, and she would not be consoled, since they were no more' " (Mt 2:16-18).
Sobbing and loud lamentation have been heard once again, this time in Newtown, Conn. The pain has not subsided even as the news coverage fades.
This latest manifestation of the culture of death shakes all people of good will to their very foundations.
How could the actions of a single "deranged gunman" cause so much horror and death, especially for so many innocent children? How does a good God permit such evil? What is it about our society that allows the death and destruction of children to become a regular occurrence?
Pope Benedict expressed his "heartfelt grief" over this "senseless violence in Newtown.
He said, "I assure the families of the victims, especially those who lost a child, of my closeness in prayer. The pope when on to say that he prayed God will "sustain the entire community with spiritual strength which triumphs over violence by the power of forgiveness, hope and reconciling love."
There is no alternative in the face of senseless violence, but to pray for spiritual strength. From the very first biblical account of man's inhumanity to man -- Cain's murder of his brother Abel, no satisfactory explanation has ever been given for the evil that human beings are capable of committing. No consolation is possible -- humanly speaking -- in the face of such acts.
Deranged persons -- whether individuals such as the Connecticut killer or groups such as the Nazis in World War II or modern-day suicide bombers -- defy reason. They kill out of madness or a deeply misguided sense of mission, and they always end badly -- either dying at their own hands or being overcome -- finally and often at great cost -- by the forces of good.
Still, we can't help but ask "why?" How could this happen -- again?
There is no answer. The prophet Jeremiah cites Rachel's weeping for her children and her inability to be consoled "since they were no more" (Jer 31:15). All we can do is weep -- and pray -- that the day will come when all violence and all tears will be ended forever.
Until then, as Pope Benedict tells us, we must rely on the Men work on a home Jan. 7 that was heavily damaged by Hurricane Sandy in Ortley Beach, N.J. Continuous efforts are underway to rebuild parts of the town destroyed in late October by the massive storm. "spiritual strength which triumphs over violence." We must place our trust in God who "triumphs over violence by the power of forgiveness, hope and reconciling love."
Without Christ all of us, and the world we live in, are in a very bad way. Unless guided by God's Word, human freedom brings with it the capacity for unspeakable evil. Unless grounded in Christ's reconciling love, there can be no real hope or forgiveness. Things will continue as they are -- unredeemed by the power of self-sacrificing love -- unless the Messiah comes to save us from the power of sin and death.
We Christians believe that this Savior has in fact come. That he has overcome the power of evil and will come again to reconcile us all to himself on the Day of Judgment.
Until then, we wait in hope. We endure suffering and senseless violence -- often with Rachel's bitter tears -- confident that God's love will triumph over sin and death and restore us to the peace and consolation of our heavenly home.
While we wait, we must pray -- and weep -- for all who suffer from the effects of unspeakable evil. Our sisters and brothers in Connecticut continue to deserve our heartfelt grief. They also deserve our fervent prayer for the Lord's coming again.
Come, Lord Jesus. Free us from the culture of death, and bring us all safely into your kingdom where you "will wipe every tear from our eyes, and there will be no more death or morning, wailing or pain" (Rev 21:4).