I am sure you all join me in prayer for those who were killed as they worshipped last Sunday morning. I cannot imagine the horror that the people in that church felt. Jesus tells us that “My Father’s house is a house of prayer”; yet, too many times in the last few years it has become a place of violence and mourning. In many ways, it drives home to me the need to realize how risky the life of a Christian can be. Our very worship is a statement of who we are and a challenge to those who do not agree with us.
I cannot help but think of the French priest who was murdered a few years ago as he celebrated Mass. I could not think when I read about it, how many times I had said morning Mass and never worried about my safety. I firmly pray that our Sunday worship will never be something to fear.
Many people are wondering why this happened and the news has all sorts of explanations. The reality is that we may never really know. Who can really know what happens inside a person when they commit such an act? I am not willing to jump to the catch-all phrase that he was mentally ill. Too many people already are afraid of mentally people and think that a person is violent. Some statistic show that many of the victims of violence are actually those with mental illness. Do some people who are mentally ill do violent things in a psychotic state? Yes. But many “sane people” also do violent things and are completely rational!
I am a firm believer that we need to take precautions and be aware of keeping ourselves safe; but, I also think a siege mentality will create more anxiety. Out places of worship must be a place of safety, but, a safety based on our hope and trust in the Lord
God is always with us and I am sure he was with those people last Sunday morning, even in the midst of all the violence. We are connected to them in our common baptism. They are our brothers and sisters in faith.
May the Lord grant those who died eternal peace and healing to those who were injured. May the healing spirit of Jesus surround the families of those now have to cope with the effects of this violent act.