“How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I bear pain in my soul, and have sorrow in my heart all day long?” These poignant words written by King David during a particularly prolonged difficult period in his life, came to mind yesterday with the news of yet again another mass shooting. I asked, “For how long, O Lord, for how long will such horrific events keep happening?”
As a nation, tragically it seems we are incapable of putting an end to such occurrences. The heinous events of March 22 in Boulder, Colorado remind us, once again, and again, and again, that we have done nothing to end mass shootings which have become an inherent part of our culture.
It is evident that debates will continue to be vitriolic and accomplish nothing. People with various views will be castigated as either un-American or immoral.
As a nation, we are not able to come together due to extreme polarization, self-serving agendas, self-certainty, corruption, a lack of an ability to listen to various perspectives, and a zeitgeist that puts individual freedom ahead of everything, even love itself. As a follower of Jesus, I cannot pretend everything is just fine.
That said, to be clear, I see what is good and right and true about our nation. I witness the actions of many heroes. So many people are caring, loving, and good at heart. We are surrounded by those who engage in selfless ways of living and caring for others. There are leaders with integrity. But let us not deny the scourge of mass shootings and gun violence and go on with carefree daily living. Jesus does not give us that option.
When we immerse ourselves in the Gospels, when we look through the lens of Jesus’ teachings, it is evident that you and I are responsible for the well-being of others. There is no wiggle room in this. Our actions and inactions with regard to others represent how we treat Jesus himself as he conveyed in Matthew 25. At its core, our Christian tradition is about love of God and others (Matthew 22). Has our response to mass shootings and gun violence reflected this truth?
I invite you this day to join me in prayer. To turn to God in prayer and listen. To quiet our minds and internal dialogue and opinions. To ask God what God would have us do in response to mass shootings and gun violence. To ask God to help us respond to these horrific events through the lens of love. To explore with God what love has to say to each of us.
Please join me in praying for those who remain devastated from the events in Boulder, Atlanta, El Paso, Columbine High School, Sandy Hook Elementary School, Las Vegas, Orlando, Virginia Beach, Thousand Oaks, The Tree of Life Synagogue, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Sutherland Springs, San Bernardino, Charleston, Aurora, Fort Hood, Virginia Tech, Killeen, San Ysidro, Binghamton, Seattle, Wilkes-Barre, Camden, Santa Fe, and too many others.
In closing, here are some words from a song I have grown to love. “Christ has no body but yours. No hand, no feet on earth but yours. Yours are the eyes with which He looks. Compassion on His world. Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good. Yours are the hands with which he blesses all the world. Yours are the hands. Yours are the feet. Yours are the eyes. You are his body.”
When it is all said and done, the future of this country with regard to mass shootings and gun violence, with God’s help, is up to us. We are the ones who can act. We are the ones who can vote and legislate. We are the ones that can choose to align our lives and positions with love. We are the ones that can put an end to this scourge as we are the hands, feet, eyes, and body of Jesus.