Well, it’s happened again. We are sending prayers to more families impacted by gun violence. We’ve now mourned for victims of 220 school shootings – 16 in 2018 alone – 1 shooting each week. While some progress has been made locally; largely, our national representatives have been deadlocked – background checks still have loopholes; assault rifles are still for sale; mental health measures to help troubled students unfunded. Corporations like Dick’s Sporting Goods that depend on sales are more willing to forego sales than sell assault type weapons. Where are our representatives who are elected to serve and protect their citizens?
When did it become OK to shoot someone who refused a date, played sports, or, even as despicable as it is, bullied another student? When did our tool of choice for settling disagreements become a gun? School shootings are a consequence of a deeper blight – the lack of respect for every human being. When immigrants are called animals; members of a religion labeled terrorists; women treated as objects, or dying people made fun of, we have a problem. We’ve lost respect for each other and using violence becomes OK because no one is important anyway.
The reading from St. Paul to the Galatians from the Mass on Pentecost warns us about hatreds, factions, fury, selfishness – traits of disrespect seemingly glorified today. He lifts up the gifts of the Spirit such as love, joy, kindness, generosity, self-control and especially peace. Yet are inundated with the speech of disrespect. It’s in the news, in social media, in the pulpit, the White House, the Congress.
We desperately need the Spirit’s guidance to change today’s rhetoric into words of respect for all people. Let us pray, “Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and enkindle in us the fire of your love. Send forth your spirit and we will be recreated and you will renew the face of the earth.” Only a renewal of our respect for each other, for our neighbors, our immigrants, our strangers will stop the violence in our world.