Two of the five deadliest mass shootings in American history have happened in the last six weeks. Stephen Paddock killed 58 people on October 1st from his perch in the Mandalay Bay, and last Sunday, Devin Kelley killed 26 people in Sutherland Springs while they were waiting for church to start. On Halloween, Sayfullo Saipov drove a rented truck into cyclists and runners for about 1 mile of the Hudson River Park’s bike path. Unfortunately, these are just the worst acts of terror in the last six weeks, not the only ones.
The settings of these attacks are striking; concerts, parks, and especially churches are supposed to be safe places, places of refuge and re-creation, and yet we have learned that there are those who grant no one sanctuary, even in an actual sanctuary.
We have prayed for the victims of all of these attacks at our altars and whenever they come to mind. We have prayed for them knowing that prayer is not the “offering of vague good wishes,”* but rather the manner in which we mourn, and the manner in which we offer to God our brokenness, the brokenness of our society, and our unwillingness to do more to prevent the violence.
There is, of course, no magic solution to all of this, but it will certainly take political, societal, and personal change. Our God wonderfully created the dignity of human nature and then even more wonderfully renewed that dignity in Jesus Christ, making it possible to not only live a holy life but to regard all life as holy. To, as we often say, love our neighbors as ourselves.
Our world will someday be perfect. But until that time when no sword is drawn but the sword of righteousness, look for the ways God gives you to help put an end to the devaluing of life that ends in such violence. Start with prayer, but don’t end there.
* From the release by Bishops Against Gun Violence.