Letter from Fr Jim amid mass shooting tragedy

April 21, 2020

To the parishioners and friends of Saint John the Apostle Parish,  in these very trying circumstances I write to you.

Our prayerful hearts go out to the families who are direct victims of this murderous rampage and to their communities.  May the souls of the dead find a merciful God.

As a Pastor, I feel it important to speak about my personal and staged realization of what is happening to us.  As I heard the news on Sunday, I didn’t’ quite know how to process it saying, ‘Lord help us.’  Monday, as news reports emerged, my thoughts and sadness went to the families who are in the immediate crisis.  At times while going about my daily business, I felt guilty at my preoccupation with such lessor things when reminded of the horror others are experiencing.  Finally, today, Tuesday, I am urged to speak out with acknowledgement and prayer.

This is real.  God, why?  

Taking a moment to contemplate the levels of hardship we are all experiencing, possibly with our own personal challenges, the coronavirus and now with this mass shooting, I find consolation in knowing God has a greater plan.  While we experience the fullness of painful realities, I think of Jesus’ painful passion leading to his own premature and terribly unjust death.   Being Easter, a celebration of new life in Christ by breaking the bonds of evil and death, I cannot be more attentive to our need for this new life.  With his resurrection, our heart must go beyond these human limitations and challenges and horrors to consider they cannot hold us in bondage.  Even so, we cannot ignore the pain and confusion we find ourselves in.  God’s consolation does not eliminate our humanity experienced in time.  Rather, his consolation works through them.  This begs us to console one another as a people who possess God’s Spirit, or at least as a people with a humanity for care. 

Our means of helping are limited, but, not eliminated.  Let us therefore reach out with prayer to start, communication if possible, and with almsgiving as the opportunity arises.  God’s plan is that we reflect him and his love as we journey to our own end.

​Thinking of the gunman, we can hardly say his actions reflect God.  What pain was he in that moved him to slaughter fellow humans, burn houses and impersonate a police officer, even with his car?  ​It leads me to think of others in similar circumstances that could possibly go this way, or simply take their own life.  While we can piece some things together, our experience tells us there will be many unanswered questions.  Everything is too complicated.​  We turn to each other and that is critically helpful.  We may try to be more inclusive to those more troubled.  But, even these are not enough.​

Who else can we turn to but an all knowing, an all consoling, an all loving God.  Only he can take us beyond our mired of problems and confusion and into his loving embrace.  There we will find the consolation we seek whilst on our human journey to find and share his very love.​

Let us pray in the very words our God and Savior, Jesus, gave us:

Our Father, who art in heaven, Hallowed be Thy Name, Thy Kingdom come, Thy Will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Amen.

In Christ,

Fr Jim