By Deacon Gregory Kirk
I’m on my annual ministerial retreat at Mount St. Mary’s Seminary. It’s a beautiful facility situated on 88 acres of manicured lawns and woods, in the middle of metro Cincinnati. I look forward to this time of prayer, rest and renewal every year.
I arrived late Sunday evening, and looked forward to a restful Monday. After early morning Mass, I headed to the dining room to meet my friends for breakfast. Having arrived first, I pulled up the Facebook application on my phone. It revealed that one of my friends who lives in Las Vegas had marked himself “safe.”
“Safe from what?”
Hurricanes wouldn’t be a threat to Las Vegas. Then, a knot formed in my stomach and I accessed a major news service on my phone and learned about the horrific mass shooting that took place Sunday night.
Numbness. Shock. Having the wind knocked out of you. Like many, those are the feelings I felt Monday morning.
I’m still struggling with those feelings on Tuesday.
More than 50 people dead. More than 500 people wounded. Husbands, wives, fathers, mothers, school teachers, police officers … it is a very sad and long list.
I’m not writing to provide any answers. Who can make sense of such evil?
Instead, I’m writing to ask people to continue with what many have been doing since hearing the news.
Pray for the dead. Pray for their families. Pray for the wounded, and for their loved ones. Pray for the first responders. Pray for the hundreds of people who escaped without injury who will never feel safe again. Pray for our leaders to have a civil, non-political discussion on the merit of semi-automatic weapons. Pray for children and young people to feel secure. Pray for civility and mutual respect to make a comeback in the land of the free and the home of the brave.
Finally, in the words of Mother Jones, “pray for the dead and fight like hell for the living.”
Our world is a beautiful place, but it is darkened with evil and sin. It has been that way since the beginning. It will be that way until the end. Jesus came to bring light to the darkness, and the darkness could not overcome Him. It never will. I will mourn and I will pray. You will. too.
But I will not let the evil done by human beings to one another overcome my hope and trust in the One who is Light. I’m hoping you won’t either.
I exercise at a local YMCA while I’m in Cincinnati. This YMCA employs young people with disabilities in a job training program. I’ve had the privilege to come to know some of them over the years. They are very special people. Michael has cerebral palsy. He checks me in at the desk with a smile and a high five. Tony walks with a limp, has a cognitive disability and wears wristwatches on both arms. I complimented him on his beautiful watches a few years ago and asked why he wears two. He responded: “Time is precious man, I don’t want it to get away from me.”
I swam laps on Monday morning after learning about the shooting. I struggled with many emotions and prayed for the victims for a half mile in the pool. After showering and getting dressed, I looked across the bench in front of my locker. Michael was struggling to tie his shoes. Then, Tony bent down to tie them for him.
We live in a world where inhumanity can’t be explained or understood, where violence is taking on new and epic proportions. But there is goodness in this world. A lot of it. There is darkness, too.
But the darkness will never overcome the Light who is Christ.
People like Michael and Tony continue to convince me of that. With their lives, they point to it.
Keep hoping. Keep believing. And please, keep praying.