Yesterday, I was standing in line for Confession before Mass started, trying to complete my Examination of Conscience. As I did, the names of the victims of the Newtown school shootings were read, as a bell tolled for each one of those souls. Twenty-six souls, twenty-six times the bell tolled for each one. It struck me, especially juxtaposed to the examination of my Conscience — which arguably seems a slightly used and even slighter formed faculty these days.
I’ve not added more “noise” on the subject of school shootings for good reason, until now, as there’s been more than enough already; but, that doesn’t mean I haven’t thought, prayed, grieved, and done considerable soul searching. Down in Texas, when my husband and I heard of the news of 26 lives slain in such a horrific and blatant attack on the innocent and defenseless, we held each other and cried. As we’ve been trying to start our own family, it hits us very hard to see the world that we want to bring new life into with slight to little decaying moral fabric intact. We are all aware that these are tough times, and at some point I’m sure we all question how much worse it will become before it gets better.
Politicians, Media, the NRA – they all so quickly say what the “problem” is and what laws or changes need to happen to address it. But, the sad thing is, so many point to the symptom of the problem, and not the actual root of the problem. The scriptures and moral Theology and Philosophy tell us that no object is evil in and of itself — it is our fallen nature and inclinations from the human heart that all too often tend towards evil.
What does that tell us? The gun and access to it is unfortunately not the biggest problem we have. It is addressing what is in the hearts of people. And that, friends, is a much bigger and challenging problem to tackle. No law from man can change the human heart–only God’s laws–which would be his teachings and specifically the 10 Commandments.
Yes, the good ol’ 10 Commandments. Today, the Commandments may mainly (and unfortunately) be known as the things prohibited from being displayed in public. That’s certainly making our nation a better place now, isn’t it? While some people view them only as a set of antiquated negatives – “thou shalt not this” and “thou shalt not that” – I have learned a bit of their ancient wisdom. God’s laws aren’t meant to cut off our freedom and suppress us like human laws can; no, they are meant to guide us into the best form of freedom – where we are not enslaved by our passions or inclinations towards evil!!
In prayer this morning, I asked the Lord what more can we do, besides have our hearts cry out, send money and gifts, and pray for the families and community of Newtown. In morning prayer today, this scripture spoke to me:
“It is now the hour for you to wake from sleep, for our salvation is closer than when we first accepted the faith. The night is far spent; the day draws near. Let us cast off deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.”
Cast off the deeds of darkness. The more people try to push God, the light in the darkness, out of public places – especially schools – the more the darkness spreads. How does God say we combat that? Put on the armor of light. Armor is defined as coverings formerly worn by soldiers to protect the body in battle. Light can most basically be defined as transmitting a reflection of God’s light. We must cover ourselves in God’s light and love, and transmit it to others.
One more thought from Proverbs 12:20
“Deceit is in the hearts of those who plot evil, but those who promote peace have joy.”
It doesn’t say create an arsenal and have everyone pack heat. It tells us to become promoters of peace. Am I saying that a gun should never be used to protect someone? No. But is that the answer that will solve all of our problems? Is it? Think about it… I sure have been.