It was only a week ago that our country went into mourning as we heard of the largest mass shooting in U.S. history with 50 dead and 53 others injured at the gay night club known as the Pulse in Orlando, Florida. In the first reading, the prophet Zechariah expresses our sorrow, even though the historical circumstances were different.
“….they shall look on him whom they have thrust through, and they shall mourn for him as one mourns for an only son, and they shall grieve over him as one grieves over a firstborn.” (Zech 12:10)
Many people have offered their condolences. Pope Francis released a statement from the Holy See Press Office expressing “the deepest feelings of horror and condemnation, of pain and turmoil before this new manifestation of homicidal folly and senseless hatred.” The Pope joins the families of the victims and the injured in prayer and compassion.
We can draw inspiration from our gospel today in which Jesus, in prayer, asked his disciples about his identity. Peter, who often spoke without realizing the full impact of his words, expressed our faith: “The Christ of God.” Jesus then explained what this title meant for Him and his disciples. Under the shadow of the cross, Jesus prophesied his rejection, suffering, death, burial and resurrection. That event on Calvary would change the course of human history so that Paul could say to the Galatians, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free person, there is not male and female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Gal 3:28)
The second part of Jesus’ message is that all believers are called to take up the cross daily and follow the Master. Fr. Phil Berrigan SJ, who recently died, said, “If you are going to follow Jesus, you better look good on wood.” There is no way to the blessings of the Beatitudes without suffering, pain and death.
Our only recourse at this point is to turn to God in humility and sorrow and a deep sense of compassion. The faith communities of our country must help create bridges of understanding among people of different ethnicities, religions and sexual orientation. We must denounce hatred and bigotry that leads to senseless violence. Above all, let us pray to Jesus the King of Peace and to Mary, Our Lady of Sorrows.
Our hearts and prayers go out to the community of Orlando.
P.S. Happy Father’s Day to all in our parish family of four.
Fr. Mike Michalski