A highly visible event, a fun-filled afternoon showcasing the storied city and marathon that is run on Patriot’s Day. The fun and the pageantry were shattered when twin bombs exploded near the finish line. What was a time of joy quickly became a time of pain and tragedy.
At the time of this message, no one has claimed responsibility. We do not know if the attacker or attackers were foreign or domestic, part of a larger operation or acting alone. We do know that they were cowards, even bullies. We know that they intended to inflict serious harm (due to the shrapnel).
And maybe, just maybe, we feel the desire for revenge.
Which is why I am writing.
I spoke with my parish council last night. I asked them to remember some things: We are still in Lent. Of course the passions will flame, of course things like this will happen. Events like these really bring a great challenge to our spiritual calmness. We should not be surprised by this or any other disruption.
But this is not about us. (Neither is Lent, really.) Fred Rogers was called to mind during the Sandy Hook horror and should also be called to mind now. Remember the helpers. In the images just after the first explosion, there are people running away, but there are also people running toward the blast. They are running to help, they are running to save. They are the helpers, they are the heroes. They are the angels whom God has called to bring help and healing to suffering people. God bless them.
And then there is us. We are (rightfully?) outraged. The flames of passion rise up. We have been wronged, and we need to respond. We would be cowards if we did not respond.
Well, sure. I guess. But before you respond, before you consign some person, people or group to the realm of eternal damnation, bear this in mind: Every human being is made in the image and likeness of God. They do not have to know it. Their thoughts and actions are irrelevant. They bear the unmistakeable stamp of their Maker. And even more, Christ died for them, too. Who they are, what they do, what they think is completely immaterial.
So, if you must act out of anger, at least be mindful of these things first. Then, if you do act, know that at some point you will also need to repent.
And instead of returning violence for violence, why not break the cycle and sew peace instead? Why not use your pent-up energy and go help someone who needs your help? Why not visit an elderly relative, friend or parishioner? Why not make God’s love real in your life and in the life of those you know?
God does not promise security. You can search for it, but you will not find it. He only promises you eternal joy, peace, comfort — if you love Him with everything you’ve got and you show that love by loving your neighbor as He loves you. Events like yesterday’s horror can distract you. You need to be aware of this, and you need to respond: not in a way that perpetuates the cycle of violence and destruction, but in a way that lives in to the reality of God’s coming of peace and love.
Forgive me, a sinner.+kgl