First Peter 3:19-22
My sisters and brothers in Christ.
In a few short verses in the Gospel today we hear
“The Spirit drove Jesús into the desert….he was tempted by Satan….after John had been arrested, Jesús came to Galilee..This is the time of fulfillment….”
After the Ash Wednesday Eucharist on Wednesday a parishioner told me about the shootings at a school in Florida.
I had not seen or heard any news that day.
Days like Ash Wednesday tend to rearrange my usual schedule so when I went home that evening I turned on the news.
The news was shocking, sickening and awful.
Someone had killed many people at a school and wounded many others.
One father whose daughter survived that horrible day said:
“They are killing our children!
They are killing our children!
They are killing our children!”
He had one simple question.
“Why can’t we make them stop?”
One of the print commentators spoke of “Appeasing” the god of guns.
She wondered if “this was the time” for a conversation about “guns” ?
The availability of weapons, to so many people, with so little evaluation of the suitability of the person purchasing a weapon is clearly a dangerous thing.
Weapons with devastating fire power are relatively easy to obtain. Is this really good for us as a society?
The commentator spoke of two relatively recent “moments” when a “time of fulfillment” or a crisis, such as the “arrest of John” in the Gospel today, prompted a decision.
In the case of Jesús, the crisis was not only “being tempted by Satan” and living “among wild beasts….”
The arrest of John seems to be the “moment” when Jesús “went public” with his message of repentance and belief in the Kingdom of God.
The first recent “moment” was the Catholic Church facing up to the consequences of our considering children damaged by priests and other church personnel as “collateral damage”. For decades the abusers were transferred without telling the new congregation the person’s relevant history of abusing children and youth. Other personnel were quietly removed from ministry but relatively few suffered serious consequences for their destructive behavior. That “usual way of doing business” had its “moment” when parents and victims said “Enough is enough.” We have never been a church of perfect saints. We are better now at protecting vulnerable people entrusted to our care.
The second “moment” came more recently when individuals working in Hollywood, media and government got the message that sexual harassment was no longer going to be tolerated by men or women. The “Me Too” movement has all the imperfections of any group of human beings but has made a difference in offering young, attractive, vulnerable persons other choices than being “collateral damage” in the interest of providing pleasure to people supervising their careers.
Our hope, that can help us to continue to send our children to school each day is that we no longer need to “appease the gods of guns” by offering our children as “collateral damage” so our “right” to bear arms is protected.
One child is one too many and seventeen people are seventeen too many to be sacrificed to “the gods of guns” for no rational reason.
I hope we can begin and continue that conversation about “guns”.
I believe the “moment” has come.
Let us begin as a society by listening respectfully to each other on this pressing but complicated issue.
Let us find a way together to protect our children and each other
Annual Catholic Appeal Weekend Remarks Follow