In reaction to the inhuman, devastating mass murder of 49 individuals and the wounding of 53 others in Orlando, we cannot but echo the insistent cries of the Jewish people in the Bible: “When, O Lord, will this end?” Enough is enough. We have had so many mass killings that we can become desensitized. And yet, each incident is more heart-breaking than the previous one. Our hearts go out to the victims, their grieving families, and to the wounded. Let us lift them all up in prayer.
As a nation we are crushed by what happened in Orlando. It is a horrible tragedy when an evening with friends suddenly turns into a horrible nightmare. For many, a day that started with much hope ended in great pain. Let us hold in our prayers the forty-nine who lost their lives. Let us pray for the people who will be impaired for the rest of their lives and normal life will become a challenge to them. Let us commend to the Lord all the injured that their recovery may be complete and swift. Let us raise up the City of Orlando to our compassionate God so that her wounds will be healed. Let us keep in prayerful remembrance the first responders who sacrifice themselves for others. Let us pray for our country. At the same time, let us also implore our all-knowing and all-powerful God to touch the hearts of those who hate us and wish us harm.
Politicians and pundits will attempt to use this horrible incident to push their own agendas and favorite issues. As people of faith we need to condemn once again the use of religion to justify murder. No religion legitimizes killing in the name of God. All of us are God’s children and everyone is created in His image. In no way does God tolerate one of His children murdering His other sons and daughters in His name. Taking the life of someone immediately repudiates and delegitimizes any religious movement or moral cause.
An incident of these gigantic proportions calls for all of us to stop and reflect. Why would anyone commit such a dastardly act? How is a human being capable of wreaking such terror on total strangers, in fact on anyone? The perpetrator is either totally insane and therefore out of touch with reality, or profoundly evil. I would opt for the latter explanation. For me an act of mass murder is a clear manifestation of the existence of pure evil in our world. God made us for life and for love. How can someone created in the image of our God of love bring about so much death and destruction? We have many questions and few real answers.
It is likely that this dastardly act by this lone killer was both an act of terror and of hate. In a civil society we do not give vent to our hatred by killing people. In our Christian faith we should not allow ourselves to hate anyone. We are respectful even towards those who disagree with us in our faith and morals. While we stand up boldly for what we believe, we need to walk a fine line. Both in our speech and in our actions we should avoid discriminating against or condemning those whose lifestyles mock our values and principles. We do not want to provide fodder for certain deranged individuals who can exploit our moral stance to justify their insane acts of violence.
In the face of this unspeakable tragedy what should we do? What can we do? We cannot allow terror to conquer us. We cannot hunker down in our basements and bid good bye to our normal lives. We should do all we can to make our world secure. However, after we have done what is reasonably possible, we need to put ourselves in the hands of God. We have to believe that He watches over us. We need to vanquish our fears by placing ourselves under the protection of our God who never sleeps. As I said to people after 9/11, we must hold on to the words of Victor Hugo who said: “Go to sleep, God is awake!”
We believe that God writes straight on crooked lines. In the end He will mend our broken hearts and give rest to those who have died. This despicable murderer will face the judgment of God Who will establish justice and give each one their due. Let us bring our humble prayers for the victims and their families, for the people of Florida, and our country. I shall leave you with a prayer that was written more than four centuries ago by Ludovicus Vives:
O Lord, the author and persuader of peace, love and goodwill, soften our hard and steely hearts, warm our icy and frozen hearts, that we may wish one another well, and may be the true disciples of Jesus Christ. And give us the grace even now to begin to display that heavenly life in which there is no disagreement or hatred, but peace and love on all hands, one towards another. Amen.
May God bless our nation and protect our children!
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...