On the afternoon of Ash Wednesday, seventeen students and teachers at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, in Parkland, Florida were killed by alleged gunman, 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz
, who used a semi-automatic AR-15 rifle. This was the eighth school shooting in the US in 2018, and we are only 47 days into the year.
Our American love affair with guns and the challenge of passing gun legislation is well portrayed by the sign on the United Methodist Building in Washington D.C., which is the only non-governmental building on Capitol Hill. The sign was changed after Wednesday’s shooting to read, “How long, O Lord, until Congress acts to prevent gun violence.”
At the same time as we pray for the families of those who have lost loved ones and acknowledge the courage of those who gave up their lives to protect the students, we must ask ourselves the hard questions. How is God calling us to live out our faith by making a difference in the effort to stop gun violence in our country? Will we speak up when we observe others behaving in ways that portend violence? How will we respond when we see dangerous social media posts? Will we continue to contact our state and national legislators to enact stricter gun control laws? How is God calling you to act?
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace:
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy.
O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console,
to be understood as to understand,
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
Prayer of St. Francis
Bishop Laurie Haller