Our deacon talked about it at the end of his homily on Sunday, and that's when it really struck me. 27 lives taken right before Christmas. Their families can't get them back. Their families will be suffering grief and mourning the loss of their loved ones while the rest of the world celebrates this usually joyful time. And I thought to myself, how crazy that this happened right before Gaudete Sunday...the Sunday of Advent when we're supposed to be rejoicing and focusing on joy and the coming of Christ. And the songs we sang at Mass today were about God's goodness. Good can come from anything...but it will be difficult to find the good in this.
After an event with middle school youth, I finally sat down at my computer at work and read up on the tragic events of last Friday. I became teary eyed thinking about all of it and also hearing about the brave teachers and administrators of the school. They are certainly martyrs. The reality of the event slowly started to sink in. After getting into my car and driving, I just wanted to cry, but held back for my safety on the road and for my trip to the grocery store. I didn't want to look at people, but I did and offered a smile, and everyone smiled back. Small signs of hope and joy.
We can choose to let it affect us or we can choose to ignore it, and I think all too often people choose the latter. It's what I did at first, but then I remembered that we're all connected and if we don't let this break our hearts, then what will? We cannot become complacent in the world we live in, staying inside of our own little bubble and thinking things can't/won't affect us. But we can't hide. We cannot become emotionless robots. Change only comes when we love, not when we fight and argue over rights and who is to blame. Our world is lacking in love, and it all begins at home. Unfortunately tragedies will happen, whether from nature or mentally ill individuals, but we have to come together as one human race for comfort and to find peace once again.
"At dusk weeping comes for the night; but at dawn there is rejoicing...You changed my mourning into dancing." Psalm 30:6, 12
"Amen, amen, I say to you, you will weep and mourn, while the world rejoices; you will grieve, but your grief will become joy." John 16:20
God has made promises to us through His written word. "Joy" appears numerous times throughout Scripture, even paired with mourning. We can keep faith and take hope in these words and promises. Life is difficult, no one ever said it would be easy, but if we seek it out and seek God, we can experience joy.
Eternal rest, grant unto them O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them.
May their souls and the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.
Below is a poem I found on Facebook:
Twas' 11 days before Christmas, around 9:38,
When 20 beautiful children stormed through heaven's gate.
Their smiles were contagious, their laughter filled the air.
They could hardly believe all the beauty they saw there.
They were filled with such joy, they didn't know what to say.
They remembered nothing of what had happened earlier that day.
"Where are we?" asked a little girl, as quiet as a mouse.
"This is heaven," declared a small boy. "We're spending Christmas at God's house."
When what to their wondering eyes did appear,
But Jesus, their savior, the children gathered near.
He looked at them and smiled, and they smiled just the same.
Then he opened His arms and He called them by name.
And in that moment was joy that only heaven can bring.
Those children all flew into the arms of their King.
And as they lingered in the warmth of His embrace,
One small girl turned and looked at Jesus' face.
And as if He could read all the questions she had
He gently whispered to her, "I'll take care of Mom and Dad."
Then He looked down on earth, the world far below,
He saw all of the hurt, the sorrow, and woe.
Then He closed His eyes and He outstretched His hand,
"Let my power and presence re-enter this land!"
"May this country be delivered from the hands of fools"
"I'm taking back my nation. I'm taking back my schools!"
Then He and the children stood up without a sound.
"Come now my children, let me show you around."
Excitement filled the space, some skipped and some ran,
All displaying enthusiasm that only a small child can.
And I heard Him proclaim as He walked out of sight,
"In the midst of the darkness, I AM STILL THE LIGHT."
Written by Cameo Smith, Mt. Wolf, PA