These past few days have been a troubling time. So many senseless acts of violence take place all around the world that it seems that at times we are immured to the horror. But sometimes these distant tragedies do not seem so far away and the horror and sadness breaks through to strike at our core.
Such a tragedy occurred last Friday with the shootings at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut. During this season of joyful expectation, the deaths of such little ones and their teachers are especially hard to take. One cannot fathom the loss and grief felt by those who lost loved ones that day. What happened is incomprehensible and my heart, as I am sure yours does, goes out to the families and friends of the victims.
We live in a world that is broken, filled with many sufferings and loss that challenge and defy any explanation other than that it is filled with broken people who seem unable to find their way.
It is during such times that we must turn to our God. When we have lost our way, let us turn to Him. For He is not the cause of our pain, but the One from Whom understanding and consolation can be found. It is especially crucial that we understand for Whom we await during this Advent season. Our God, Himself, came into this broken world and offers us the only consolation that can heal our troubled hearts. From the Manger to the Cross, He shows us that He loves us and cares for us; that He alone can heal our brokenness and be our Hope.
We need to know that in this world of senseless violence that there is meaning to our being and existence and hope for our future. We need to look back and know what was revealed to our Fathers and Mothers of old. Our past has led to our present and will guide us to our future. In our history – our story – we can detect the love and care of God for us that is so easy to miss during the moments through which we live.
Long before Christ was born, His birth was announced; we read one such announcement in the First Reading of the Fourth Sunday of Advent (Year C):
“But you, Bethlehem-Ephrathah too small to be among the clans of Judah, From you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel; Whose origin is from of old, from ancient times” (Micah 5:1).
No matter what takes place, no matter the sadness of the moment, God is with us; He has a plan for each of us; He has been with us from ancient times and His care for us will overcome our sorrow – even when we are unable to see Him or feel His consolation.
The baby born in Bethlehem would suffer, not so that we would not know suffering, but so that we might find peace in His Salvation and love, won for us by His suffering. From the Cross and now from Heaven, Jesus – born in Bethlehem as Micah prophesied 700 years before that first Christmas day – looks down on those who suffer this day and offers His peace and His consolation. As He arose, so might we. He is our hope and salvation. Let Him be your comfort; rest in His embrace.
As we await the return of the Christ, at this Christmas and at the end of days, we turn to Him in prayer and offer our own suffering and hurt and confusion and questions. We pray for the consolation and healing of those present at Sandy Hook Elementary who survived… we pray for those who lost loved ones, we pray for all of us… that we may not lose faith and hope in the One Who truly understands and has taken on our pain and sorrow. And we pray for those who lost their lives…
Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord. Let perpetual light shine upon them. May they rest in peace. Amen. May their souls and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, requiescat in pace. Amen.
Into the deep…
Into the Deep by Deacon Mike Bickerstaff is a regular feature of the The Integrated Catholic Life™ and appears each Sunday.
Deacon Mike Bickerstaff is the Editor in chief and co-founder of the The Integrated Catholic Life™. A Catholic Deacon of the Roman Rite for the Archdiocese of Atlanta, Deacon Bickerstaff is assigned to St. Peter Chanel Catholic Church where he is the Director of Adult Education and Evangelization.
He is a co-founder of the successful annual Atlanta Catholic Business Conference; the Chaplain of the Atlanta Chapter of the Woodstock Theological Center’s Business Conference; and Chaplains to the St. Peter Chanel Business Association and co-founder of the Marriages Are Covenants Ministry, both of which serve as models for similar parish-based ministries.
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