We mourn with those who mourn. We regret deeply the tragic, senseless loss of lives in Newtown. We look to the Word for consolation and guidance. God bless these children teachers, parents, families and friends..
Therefore, the days will come, says the LORD,
when they shall no longer say, “As the LORD lives,
who brought the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt”;
but rather, “As the LORD lives,
who brought the descendants of the house of Israel
up from the land of the north”–
The Israelites rooted their faith in the Exodus deliverance from bondage. Jeremiah telsl them their faith will be re-rooted in deliverance from the Babylonian Exile.
The tragedy in Newtown prompts us to echo Jeremiah. When will we be delivered? When will the Kin-dom Jesus promised come? When shall we say:
“As the LORD lives who brought us out of violence, greed, division, hatred, war- mongering, and neglect of the least among us into the Kin-dom of love, peace, justice, and joy.”
This is the awaited Advent promise and hope.
In the meantime we may have to get on the dung heap with Job. We must mourn and wail and even challenge God. “Why, O God, why?”
Henri Nouwen and Thomas Merton Merton give us an important clue:
Father Nouwen emphasized Merton’s view that the roots of all evil are in the human heart, and the first place to start converting or reversing the evil process is in one’s own heart. “The whole conversion experience,” said Nouwen, “begins with the recognition and confession that you are part of the problem. You are part of the evil in the world, and you can not simply point your finger at the evil world.”
To follow the wisdom of Thomas Merton, therefore, we should not only make a big effort to exterminate the evil outside ourselves, but first of all to diminish the evil tendencies within us: selfishness, pride, vengeance, hatred, violence. These impulses we hold in common with all humanity. As Merton wrote in his New Seeds of Contemplation, “Instead of hating the people we think are the war-makers, hate the appetites and the disorders in your own soul, which are the causes of war. If you love peace, then hate injustice, hate tyranny, hate greed, but hate these things in yourself, not in another.”
In the silent lapses of our wailing, if we listen real close, we may then hear, “You are the body of the Risen, Cosmic Christ. Beginning with yourselves make the Kin-dom happen NOW. Live, model, and practice Gospel nonviolence. Love your enemies. Pray for those who persecute you. Forgive one another. Forsake greed and consumerism. Practice justice. Walk in mercy. Feed the hungry. Give drink to the thirsty. Shelter the homeless. Educate the children. Care for the sick. Visit the imprisoned. Declare jubilee debt relief.”
Listen in the silence of our grief. God is faithful and will fulfill all promises if we wake up.