The Valley Catholic August 20, 2019 - Page 16

16 August 20, 2019 | The Valley Catholic COMMENTARY God is Calling us to Break Violence’s Stranglehold on our World By Tony Magliano Internationally syndicated social jus- tice and peace columnist The recent tragic mass shootings in Gilroy, Califor- nia, Dayton, Ohio and El Paso, Texas, killing at least 29 people, point to an ongoing epidemic of mass shootings in the United States. As of August 5, the 217th day of the year, there were 255 mass shootings – more mass shootings than number of days so far this year. When bot h mass shoot i ngs a nd si ngle shootings are added together, everyday on av- erage 10 0 A mer ica n s a re k i l led w it h g u n s and hundreds more are shot and injured (see: When compared to other wealthy nations and many low-income countries, the U.S.’s rate of gun violence is far greater (see: While common sense gun control laws like univer- sal background checks and gun registration, as well as banning the sale of semi-automatic weapons would certainly help stem this epidemic, the problem runs far deeper than reasonable legislation can adequately address. The U.S., as well as so much of the world, is addicted to the evil of violence. Just consider how widespread and far-reaching are the global tentacles of violence: 55 million annual abortions, infanticide, euthanasia, drug gangs, child soldiers, religious/ethnic/racial persecution, dozens of armed conflicts, armed militias, war preparation, arms manufacturing, arms sales, the violent “entertainment” industry, and the astronomical global military spend- ing of $1.7 trillion annually. As of August 5, the 217th day of the year, there were 255 mass shootings – more mass shootings than number of days so far this year. And then there are the many other cruel realities that human beings suffer from, that at first glance may not appear violent-related, but, in truth inflict grave violence to the human dignity of countless brothers and sisters. Among these cruel realities are closed borders to desperate migrants and refugees, hunger, poverty, homelessness, people lacking clean water/ sanitation/medical care, abandoned orphans, forgotten elderly, human trafficking and child labor. Dare we not forget there are two other evil catego- ries of violence which are threatening the very exis- tence of life on earth: the ominous reality of nuclear weapons – with the very real possibility of nuclear war anytime, and the unfolding catastrophic violence to our common home – the earth – caused principally by human-induced climate change. Bot h of t hese loom i ng da ngers have led the prestigious Bulletin of the Atomic Sci- entists to report that their Doomsday Clock is perilously still at 2 minutes to midnight (see: In the words of Pope Francis we need to create a “culture of encounter” with all people – even our enemies. “But to you who hear I say, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. … Do to others as you would have them do to you,” said Jesus. Violence is not the way of Jesus. This is indisputable! The late preeminent theologian and biblical scholar, Fr. John McKenzie said, “If Jesus does not reject vio- lence for any reason, we do not know anything about Jesus. Jesus taught us not how to kill but how to die.” So, following the example of the non-violent Jesus, let us teach, preach, work, and pray to root out violence in ourselves, governments, corporations, schools, cultures, and even in our church – e.g. the “just-war” theory (see: Saint Pope John Paul powerfully said, “Violence is evil, that violence is unacceptable as a solution to prob- lems, that violence is unworthy of man. Violence is a lie, for it goes against the truth of our faith, the truth of our humanity. Violence destroys what it claims to defend: the dignity, the life, the freedom of human beings.” Closeness Is God’s Answer to Suffering, Pope Says By Junno Arocho Esteves Catholic News Service VATICAN CITY -- In hopeless situa- tions of pain and suffering, God never abandons his children but rather re- mains close to them, Pope Francis said. “God’s answer to our pain is a close- ness, a presence that accompanies us, that doesn’t leave us alone. Jesus made himself the same as us and for this rea- son we have him near us, to cry with us in the most difficult moments of our lives. Let us look at him, entrust him with our questions, our sorrows, our an- ger,” the pope said in a letter published August 13 in the Italian newspaper “Il Secolo XIX,” based in Genoa. In his letter, the pope commemorated the first anniversary of the fatal collapse of Genoa’s Morandi bridge that killed 43 people and “inflicted a wound in the heart of your city.” “In the face of such events, the pain of loss is excruciating and not easy to relieve, as is the feeling of not resign- ing oneself in the face of a disaster that could have been avoided,” he wrote. The pope said that while there is no answer to the sorrow of losing a loved one, those who suffer must remember that they “are never alone” and that God responds to their cries not with words but through the presence of his son, Jesus. “Jesus passed before us through suf- fering and death. He took upon himself all our sufferings. He was despised, The Blessing of Reality Checks By Father Eugene Hemrick Catholic News Service “I have observed Satan falling like lightning from the sky” (Lk 10:18). Jesus instructed the Twelve: “Be- hold, I am sending you like sheep in the midst of wolves; so be shrewd as ser- pents and simple as doves” (Mt 10:16). Avoiding being like Satan, who was dispelled from heaven because of pride, and reminding the Twelve that they will be vulnerable sheep are two of Christ’s reality checks found in the New Testament. Just when we think discipleship is glorious, along comes one of Christ’s zingers aimed at bring- ing his apostles down to earth. At first sight, Christ’s reality checks seem frightful and cautionary: Do not become proud or you will fall like Satan; being a shepherd is fraught with dangers. What deeper meaning is found in these reality checks? St. Thomas Aquinas gives us a profound understanding of them in his treatises on love and wisdom. Among the qualities of love cited by St. Aquinas is fraternal correction, which at first look doesn’t seem to fit with love’s more heart-uplifting qualities such as mercy, peace, joy and beneficence. And yet the goal of fraternal correc- tion is extremely heartening: to help us live a more prudent, wise and orderly life. St. Isidore states that folly is the op- posite of wisdom. Interestingly, “folly” is derived from the Old French word “folie,” meaning madness or stupidity. Folly stops us from understanding the causes of the good life that advance our life for the better. Christ’s reality checks are not meant to frighten his disciples; rather they are meant to make them wise and prudent and are inspired by his love for them. humiliated, beaten, nailed to the cross, and barbarically killed,” he said. The pope also encouraged the people of Genoa to not lose sight of Christ and the church who “is with you and shares your sufferings and difficulties.” “I know that you people of Genoa are capable of great gestures of solidarity, I know that you roll up your sleeves, that you do not give up, that you know how to be next to those most in need,” Pope Francis said. “Do not lose hope, don’t let yourselves be robbed.” Like a wise father who has a very good grasp of reality’s pros and cons and who out of love for his children desires the best for their future, so too, is this Christ’s love. As I reflect on the fraternal correc- tion I have received during my life and the times they brought me down to earth, I wonder about the degree of fraternal correction being practiced today in homes, schools, churches and businesses. Fraternal correction is difficult to practice or to receive. And yet when it is offered, it gives us a shot of wisdom needed to enjoy a more orderly life.