July 24, 2022

The past couple of years have seen a frightening increase in violence in our city, our country and throughout the world. Mass shootings of so many innocent adults and children seem to be almost a monthly if not weekly occurrence. The unprovoked attack on Ukraine by Russia has resulted in a devastating war killing thousands on both sides and the utter destruction of many cities and villages in Ukraine. With non-stop media reports and pundits on all sides offering reflections I hear in the voices of many people who come here to St. Peter's a growing weariness and hopelessness about our present world.

Today at Mass we hear the Gospel (Luke 11:1-13) invite us to ask.. Do we believe God is listening to us?   Does prayer work? Countless people who have gone before us believed in the power of prayer........ Every time it would lightning and storm my grandmother would say a prayer and sprinkle holy water in their house. Did that prayer protect us?  I don’t know….all I know is their house was never struck by lightning!

The disciples saw Jesus praying and they wanted in on the action…..they wanted to pray also and so they come to Jesus, “Lord, teach us to pray just as John taught his disciples.”

And he told them to say, “Father, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread and forgive us our sins for we ourselves forgive everyone in debt to us, and do not subject us to the final test.”

What can we do to end this seemingly growing assault of violence in our society? I do not have the answer. But I do know there are those who are calling us to reflect upon our present realities and our own behaviors. The worst we can all do is to give up. To believe that you, I and others cannot do anything. To think that we are powerless in the face of so much evil. As history teaches us.....humanity has travelled throughout some very difficult and dangerous experiences over the years and yet we are still here because, "Human greatness does not lie in wealth or power, but in character and goodness. People are just people, and all people have faults and shortcomings, but all of us are born with a basic goodness. Despite everything, I believe that people are really good at heart." (Anne Frank, killed by the Nazis in 1945)

I share below for your reflection this week a transcript of the homily Fr. Ed McKenzie, OFM preached on May 28, 2022 here at St. Peter's following the mass shooting in Uvalde, TX on May 24, 2022 that killed and injured school children and teachers in that tight knit community.

Fr. Michael

Homily preached by Fr. Ed McKenzie, OFM
May 28, 2022 after the school shooting in Uvalde, TX

I don’t know what to say! Another mass shooting. I woke up this morning to the news of another shooting of kids . . . innocent fourth graders. I had to tear up what I planned on saying this afternoon. I had to start over. I might get into trouble . . . but I just don’t care.19 more children were slaughtered yesterday in Texas with a gun very much like the gun I was issued when I was sent to Vietnam. I wouldn’t be shooting at rabbits or hunting deer with it . . . either.

Gunfire is cutting through the noise of children laughing and playing and learning what they would need to be adults in a world gone mad . . . . but that won’t happen for them. It is all so overwhelming I don’t know what to do or way.

The best we can do  . . . . and it seems . . . . all we ever do . . . .is offer prayers and thoughts. . . . for the victims. It has become such a cheap response to these horrors. . . . it’s become diluted and trite. . . . . just empty hollow words. But yet we must continue to pray and give thought to the people hurt by guns.

It’s almost a daily occurrence in this country. People in other countries shake their head and wonder what’s wrong with the United States.

I just don’t know what to say. What should we do? If we believe we are created in God’s image then someday we have to begin to act like we believe it. Until we do . . . .  the image of God is an ugly one. A God created in our image is no God worth having.

What enrages me most about gun violence is its complete disregard for human life and dignity. Guns are meant for only one thing . . . . to take away life. They destroy families and tear communities apart.

Jesus told his disciples . . . .  “Enough is enough! No more of this” when things got heated in the Garden of Gethsemane.

So where do we go from here? Our faith tells us to get busy . . . . .  but we don’t know what the hell to do. But then again, maybe we do.  Jesus said “enough is enough” and we too need to yell it from the streets.

We read in the Acts of the Apostles this week that Paul proclaimed and preached from the Areopagus in Greece. We need to find an Areopagus of our own and shout it to the world . . . .”Enough is enough . . . . !” Pope Francis has spoken out this morning. “Enough!!!:

But . . . we can even do better than yell from the streets, we can put our love for human life into action.  Love is an active verb and it commissions us to do something.

Our faith commands us to tear down the systems that perpetuate senseless gun violence. Our faith tells us what to do and then tells us to get off our butts.  And faith gives us the ability to move forward even when we feel like we don’t know what we’re doing. . . . which is always in such a situation as we experienced yesterday

Yes. . . .  enough is enough.

I wish I lived in a country that valued its children as much as it does its guns . . . but I don’t!

We have an enormous problem. Our systems of power ignore the problem. People play politics . . . . while gunfire snuffs out the laughter of children. Our children are paying a big price. People are getting rich at the expense of our children. Vote after vote is taken in the halls of Congress . . . and nothing. We get so complacent and numb to all of this.

My prayer for us today is “God help us! Please Inspire us to love and give us the power to bring down oppressive systems of violence. Because Jesus is Lord . . . .  not the lobbyists in congress.

Little Sisters of the Poor

I encourage your generosity to the appeal of the Little Sisters of the Poor at Masses this weekend to help in their challenging ministry to the elderly poor here in Chicago and in other places throughout the USA. For over 145 years the Sisters have helped care for the elderly who are in need here in Chicago.

Fr. Michael