My Dear Bothers & Sisters in Christ,
The recent tragedies that we have experienced in the Central Florida area, can make one wonder, what is going on here? Will our reasonably quiet community become known as a place a hatred and violence? How safe are we? Why so much sadness?
Three days in a row, we experienced and were awakened to separate Internationally recognized catastrophes. It started when we heard about the sad death of a rising music star, Christina Grimmie, a contestant and finalist in the “America’s Got Talent” Television show, who performed in our city only to be gunned down by an apparently crazed fan.
Then, the next night Orlando was placed on the top of the list of the deadliest mass shootings in history. Forty-nine people lost their lives either due to hatred, fanaticism or possibly bigotry. We cannot answer why, but only speculate why someone would find that killing innocent people is something to strive for. No matter the reason, this deadly massacre has affected not only our city but also the whole world. The world recognizes that what has happened here, is the age old failure of humanity to open ourselves to love our sisters and brothers.
If things were not bad enough for our community, the next morning we awoke to find that a two year old child who was celebrating at the theme park that put Orlando on the map, “The Mouse House”, was abducted and drowned by an alligator, a symbol of our State. How sad for this family who came to our city for a time of enjoyment. How sad for all those who were deeply affected by these various tragic incidents this past weekend. Their are a lot of families and friends out there that are truly suffering from these numerous catastrophes. What can we say to answer them and relieve the pain our world is in now?
Our Bishop Noonan, of Orlando stated that “A sword has pierced the heart of our city. Since learning of the tragedy this morning, I have urged all to pray for the victims, the families and first responders. I pray that the Lord’s mercy will be upon us during this time of sadness, shock and confusion. I urge people of faith to turn their hearts and souls to the great physician, our Lord Jesus Christ, who consoles and carries us through suffering with mercy and tenderness. The healing power of Jesus goes beyond our physical wounds but touches every level of our humanity: physical, emotional, social, spiritual. Jesus calls us to remain fervent in our protection of life and human dignity and to pray unceasingly for peace in our world.” Our Bishop couldn’t have been more correct, when he notes that in our sorrow and the confusion that is brought by death calls us also to be one with the maker and healer, Our Lord, Jesus Christ. We are all called to place our trust in the one who is the stability of our life.
The world cannot answer the questions as to; why and what for? We cannot expect to know what this will lead us to, but we do know that when we keep our focus on the God of Mercy and Compassion, placing our trust in His care and guidance, we know that He will not only pull us through, but teach us what is most important in this life. So the answer to the questions I first posed to you, does not really have anything to do with why and what will come of this, but mainly about “How do I respond or grow to understand God’s love more clearly to this?” We should all take these horrible incidents and ask God, “With your Help Lord, How may I grow through this sorrow?”
May God’s peace reign in your hearts, always.
Very Rev. John C. Giel, V.G.