I have to admit, when terrible news came out again last Sunday and I heard of the shooting at a small Baptist church near San Antonio, Texas, I felt… kind of numb. I’ll also admit that I think I let the recent vehicle attack in New York City only partly register in my mind and heart. Not to mention the violent events taking lives, often many more lives at a time, in other countries around the world.
It was just the beginning of October when the shooting in Las Vegas happened. As some of you heard in my homily that following weekend, either at Mass or on Sound Cloud later, I reflected about talking and praying on the phone with my brother who lives in Vegas. In that homily I also reflected on a question, and a zeal, that welled within me: How can we as a parish help to change more people’s lives in our area, to help more people meet Jesus and have their hearts converted to him – maybe even people who might otherwise be tempted to commit acts of such violence?
I haven’t felt that same zeal the past few days. I’m not sure why, but I think it’s that I don’t even want to think about this event in Texas. One of the first reports of the shooting that I saw online carried a YouTube video of that little church’s service the previous Sunday. There were a few dozen people, families…and little children: singing, praying, greeting each other with a sign of peace. Almost certainly many – most – of those men and women and children are now among the dead and wounded. I just don’t think I’m willing to let that sink too far into my heart yet, even now as I write. Maybe by next weekend when this is printed, I will be willing. Maybe writing this is helping me be willing.
In any event, I went back and listened to my homily after Las Vegas. If you want to listen too, it’s from October 8th, and it’s on the “St. Raphael Raleigh” channel on soundcloud.com. I felt like I needed to just hear that message myself this week. To be reminded that Jesus can bring hope into even the darkest times and places. To help open up my heart again.
Fr. Phil Hurley, SJ