Our hearts are heavy with sorrow over the senseless killing of 14 individuals in San Bernardino, CA, by a married couple that professed their loyalty to ISIS. What parents in their right mind would leave their six-month-old child with her grandparents as they set out to commit this dastardly act? The husband had been given the privilege of citizenship while his wife was admitted through a fiancé visa. What a terrible act of betrayal to the country and a people that welcomed them with open arms! The obvious insanity of this killing has been weighing on me this whole week.
We need to pray for the people of San Bernardino. We need to pray for healing. We need to plead with our loving God that He stops evil people like these from continuing to wreak havoc on the innocent. We must beg for protection for our nation and for our children. As a nation, we need to stop and ask ourselves whether we are doing everything to protect our families. At the same time, we need to hold our elected leaders accountable. Their primary duty is to guarantee the security and safety of all citizens.
I am afraid our leaders have not taken the threat from these terrorists seriously enough. They are not merely intent on killing people at random in Paris or here in the US. Their ultimate goal is to destroy all that we hold sacred and precious. They are at war to destroy civilization as we know it. Bono of U2, in an interview with Fareed Zakariah of CNN, said that ISIS is a cult of death and is bent on destroying our way of life. As far as I am concerned, it is a cancer on the body of humanity, and should be surgically removed.
The current rise of terrorism is just another manifestation of the age-old strife and discord that seem to characterize the entire history of the Middle East. Already in the Old Testament times there were endless wars waged by the various tribes and nations that populated that region. Even as a child growing up in India, I heard about the constant struggles going on in that part of the world. All those killings in the past and all the senseless acts of violence committed against the innocent right now are repetitions of the killing of Abel by his brother, Cain. Once more we are refusing to be our brother’s keeper.
The call of the Gospel contradicts the call of these Jihadists. The Gospel calls us to life, not death. Jesus lays down His life that we may have life. He calls on His followers to lay down their own lives, not to take the lives of others. Jesus gives life because He operates not on the principle of revenge and retribution but on the principle of mercy and compassion. Mercy is the heart of the Gospel. God sent His Son not to condemn the world but to save it.
Guided by the Holy Spirit, Pope Francis recognizes the need for this message of hope to be proclaimed to our generation, and has declared the Jubilee Year of Mercy beginning on December 8th, the feast of the Immaculate Conception. In our personal lives, we are filled with guilt over the sins and failures of our past. In our collective lives, we are witnesses to unspeakable acts of violence and cruelty that do not seem to abate. We need the soothing touch of our merciful God who erases our sins and guarantees rest in His arms. During this Jubilee Year Catholics can avail themselves of special indulgences by undertaking certain special practices and devotions.
During this Year of Mercy, we are called upon to taste God’s mercy in our own personal lives. Those of us who have not approached the Sacrament of Reconciliation should consider drinking the cup of God’s endless mercy. We need to contemplate the boundless mercy of God who not only sent us His Son but also continues to offer His forgiveness in the Church.
Having tasted the sweet nectar of His mercy, we must become channels of that mercy to others. Our Holy Father challenges us with these words:
As we can see in Sacred Scripture, mercy is a key word that indicates God’s action towards us. He does not limit himself merely to affirming his love, but makes it visible and tangible. Love, after all, can never be just an abstraction. By its very nature, it indicates something concrete: intentions, attitudes, and behaviors that are shown in daily living. The mercy of God is his loving concern for each one of us. He feels responsible; that is, he desires our wellbeing and he wants to see us happy, full of joy, and peaceful. This is the path which the merciful love of Christians must also travel. As the Father loves, so do his children. Just as he is merciful, so we are called to be merciful to each other.
Let us pray to the Immaculate Virgin who attests that “the mercy of the Son of God knows no bounds and extends to everyone, without exception.” Let us pray that “she may never tire of turning her merciful eyes upon us, and make us worthy to contemplate the face of mercy, her Son Jesus.” Let us constantly bear in mind that we are called to be merciful just as our Heavenly Father is merciful.
Born in India to deeply-committed Catholic parents, Fr Britto is one of seven children. He joined the Salesians of Don Bosco as a young man and was ordained a priest in 1981.
After he completed his priestly formation and his early education in India, he came to the US for his graduate degree in Journalism at...Read more...