In Times of Tragedy and Terror

Yesterday, April 15, my niece gave birth to my mother’s first great grandchild. And what kind of world is little Phoenix Thomas entering? Here we are, reeling from yet another senseless national tragedy. I feel like lamenting with the psalmist, “How long, O Lord? How long?” Isn’t it enough that we earthlings live in fear from earthquakes, hurricanes, tsunamis, and volcanoes? Still, some fellow human beings turn against us and add to our misery, sorrow, and apprehension. How many other creatures do this to their own? You would think that we humans, who are gifted with reason, would know better.

We understand that crimes against humanity are spawned by greed, hatred, misguided religious zeal, or mental illness. Yet, why they exist at all is unfathomable. No wonder John Henry Cardinal Newman concluded that some catastrophe at the beginning of the human race must have wrecked the good world God made—and the “very good” people he created. We refer to this universe-altering catastrophe as original sin.

Trusting in the promise of Jesus, we wait in hope for the new kingdom of peace and justice. Someday our sorry world will be reborn, phoenix-like. In the meantime, what do we do? We can help work to promote this kingdom in our own life and in our country. For example, as the priest advised in his homily this morning, we can make our motto “Not revenge, but reconciliation.” We can do our best to persuade our representatives to enact sane laws that protect our people. And in the face of such disasters as the Boston terrorist attack, we can cope with the evils and help one another cope. And we pray: for the victims, their families, and the perpetrators. We pray to our Creator with renewed vigor, “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”

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