It’s time we live what we believe

Like many of us, I was upset when I heard the news of a shooting at a high school in Florida. My initial thoughts were probably similar to yours: Not again!

In the hours that followed though I observed something that I found greatly troubling. I noticed that there were not as many posts on my social media newsfeed that there had been in past tragedies. The social media posts that I did read were largely political, and not in any beneficial way. I suppose we can say that people are numb to such violence and the anger that is being expressed is part of a shocked response to the news. 

However, we have been in this situation before and know that the rhetoric and vitriol doesn’t go away. The lines have been drawn: gun control vs. mental illness. This hasn’t been a national discussion, but two sides yelling at each other, condemning each other and failing to recognize that part of the answer probably involves both.

“Part of the answer.” There is a deeper truth here. If we think that we human beings can solve all of these issues, can create a perfect society on our own, we are delusional. The day after the shootings the first reading at Mass came from the Book of Deuteronomy: “If you obey the Commandments of the Lord, your God, loving Him and walking in His ways, you will live and grow numerous” (Dt 30:16). What are these Commandments? Jesus says, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. The second is this: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other Commandment greater than these” (Mk 12:30-31). 

We can brush this aside as being naïve, but we should ask ourselves, is it true? If humanity loved God with all our being and loved each other, would we see as much violence and hatred in the world? I suspect not. I also suspect people would be happier, more peaceful and live without fear.

Often times our declaration “that is naïve” is an excuse not to change, to blame someone else or to assume someone else will have to solve the problem.

God desires a loving relationship with each human being and in that relationship, we come to a better understanding of ourselves. When we open our hearts and minds to the Lord, to receive His graces and healing, we find joy and peace.

At the same time, the Lord calls us to share His love with others. Letting them know of the Lord’s invitation and helping them to respond and begin the road of healing and conversion. In short, the Gospel is the solution.

Jesus’ last words in the Gospel: “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age” (Mt 28:19-20).

It’s time that we live what we believe.

Anchor columnist Father David Frederici is pastor of St. George Parish in Westport and diocesan director of Campus Ministry and chaplain at UMass Dartmouth and Bristol Community College.

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