It wasn’t a particularly inspiring line from yesterday’s Gospel that stuck with me during my prayer: “The ruler of this world has been condemned.”
And yet there it was, nearly jumping of the page. I thought, perhaps, it connected with some of the research I was doing on the New Testament understanding of salvation. Certainly, the “ruler” of the world in the New Testament, particularly in John’s Gospel and Paul’s letters, is diabolical, a part of the “powers and principalities” that keep the cosmos enchained to sin, suffering, and death, to which the Word was sent for liberation and salvation.
And then I read the news. Another mass shooting, another group of children shot dead in their classroom, another round of cries for reforms, another stonewall by the gun lobby, another day in America.
I cannot write eloquently about evil, about bullets piercing children, about hate killing at a Buffalo grocery store, about an unfettered gun lobby holding us hostage, demanding a blood sacrifice every week or month, about a tragic lack of access to medical or mental health care for the young and disaffected, about the myriad ways we fail to create a humane society where the common good and human dignity is upheld.
The richest, most powerful country in the world, letting its children, our children, die for the sake of… what? Who wins here? People who want to collect guns? People with pipe dreams of joining a militia?
The rest of us pray our kids come home from school, pray the bullets don’t come to our workplace, our grocery store, our schools, our churches. Enough is enough.
God is not neutral in the face of injustice. God does not make or manufacture guns, God does not accept a political donation/bribe to turn away from bloodshed, God does not condone or accept the mass slaughter of innocent children. Their blood cries from the ground.
I refuse to become numb to it. I refuse to look away. I will weep. I will rage. I will be broken. I accept all that as a follower of Christ, but I will not look away. The ruler of this world has been condemned.
Gun violence is evil. And nothing evil is inevitable. Faith without works is dead.
We can change this. We can take action. We can refuse to look away.
From the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB):
“The Church has been a consistent voice for the promotion of peace at home and around the world, and a strong advocate for the reasonable regulation of firearms. Christ’s love and mercy must guide us. The Church recognizes that recourse to self-defense is legitimate for one’s own safety. In today’s world, however, weapons that are increasingly capable of inflicting great suffering in a short period of time are simply too accessible.
For many years, the USCCB has supported a number of reasonable measures to address the problem of gun violence. These include:
- A total ban on assault weapons, which the USCCB supported when the ban passed in 1994 and when Congress failed to renew it in 2004.
- Measures that control the sale and use of firearms, such as universal background checks for all gun purchases;
- Limitations on civilian access to high-capacity weapons and ammunition magazines;
- A federal law to criminalize gun trafficking;
- Improved access to and increased resources for mental health care and earlier interventions;
- Regulations and limitations on the purchasing of handguns;
- Measures that make guns safer, such as locks that prevent children and anyone other than the owner from using the gun without permission and supervision; and
- An honest assessment of the toll of violent images and experiences which inundate people, particularly our youth.”
“My heart is broken over the mass shooting at the elementary school in Texas. I am praying for the children and adults who were killed, and for their families. It is time to say enough to the indiscriminate trafficking of arms. Let us all commit ourselves so that such tragedies can never happen again!”
– Pope Francis, General Audience, May 25, 2022