I suspect that most of us have either read about or heard about the tragedy in Nova Scotia where a man has murdered many people. Some of the people were known to him and some were not. The death toll is not yet certain but as of this morning it is somewhere around twenty people. Twenty people who died for no apparent reason. People who died because they were in the path of someone who was determined to destroy life!
Will we ever know what caused him to do what he has done? I am not sure that there is any evidence at this point to explain why this man has done what he has done. It is certainly not the act of a rational person but suggests a mental illness of some sort. There is no law that can protect us from people who do such things. Yes, we can limit access to guns – a reasonable thing to do. Yes, we can have mental health checks for those who want to own guns - a reasonable thing to do. Yes, we can educate people on the proper use and storage of guns - a reasonable thing to do. In the end, there is a clash between reason and the acts of someone who is no longer motivated by the reason or the logic that benefits the common good. There are no perfect solutions to assure that such events as this event in Nova Scotia never take place. We, all of us, are vulnerable to the unexpected violence of people we know and of people we do not know. We can reduce the probability of something happening, but we can never make that probability zero.
What do we do now? I think there are gestures that we as people of faith can do to support people who are struggling. The first gesture is reflected in the first reading from our mass today. We need to reach out and care for one another. It is not a grand gesture - it is a small thing. We need to be concerned about the well being of each other. It does not mean taking over someone’s life – it does mean reaching out and expressing care and concern for the other. Little gestures of kindness ground us and remind us that we matter. When we care for one another we can also notice when a friend or family member is struggling. We are in a place where we can support and care for them.
Having said that, it is true there are times when there is nothing we can do. This type of helplessness touches us and frustrates us and can lead to anger, resentment, paralysis, thoughtful action or in-your-face behaviors or even further violence. At times our only recourse is to do the best that we can do given all the information we have, ask for help and ask God to intervene. Today, there is much sadness in the lives of countless people as a result of what happened. The impact of this tragedy reverberates across the country and around the world.
I suspect that many people will place this event in the hands of God. Some will lobby governments to do something. Some will feel shame and sit in silence. Some will blame others. At moments like this there is something that we as believers can do! We can do what the followers of Jesus did following his arrest – we can accompany those who suffer. As believers let us do what we can to alleviate the suffering of those who have been touched by this tragedy and secondly, let us place this event into the hands of God and listen for the wisdom that comes from the God who loves us.
I have no idea what God will say to us who pause to listen. I suspect God will speak different things to different people. We know the Holy Spirit is at work in the world. We know that the Holy Spirit does different things in different people, always building up the Body of Christ. The response we hear in prayer will always be about creating, sustaining and nurturing life. God will never invite us to destroy life! The passion of our God if for life! God is constantly calling us to move towards the light and the life that is around us!
As the details of this tragedy become known I invite us to sit before our God and pose this question: God, what will you have me do? As you listen, notice that God will always affirm and encourage gestures that support life! From chaos comes order, from individualism comes community, from death comes life, from Good Friday comes Easter Sunday. May we take the time to listen and discover the new life that will flow from this tragedy. As certain as there is a sunrise, so too will there be new life. Let us seek it with our whole heart!
Hi! My name is Fr. Doug Jeffrey, OMI and I am the pastor of the Meadow Lake Cluster. I serve the faith communities of Our Lady of the Smile, Waterhen, St. Jude's, Green Lake and Our Lady of Peace, Meadow Lake. I arrived in the cluster on August 15th, 2019. You can see more information about me on the home page!