Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
It has been another week of violence in our country and our community. On Wednesday, February 14th, we all heard of another school shooting in our country, leaving seventeen dead, in Florida. This followed a Saturday, in Westerville, in which two police officers were killed answering a domestic dispute. As I was preparing to write this bulletin column, I looked back at old columns that I had written when I was pastor of Ss. Simon and Jude in West Jefferson. In 2012, the Second Sunday of Lent, Liturgical Year B, which we celebrate this weekend, fell on March 4th. [I tend to save old columns and also homilies. It sometimes helps me or shortcuts some of the preparation I have to do.] As I looked at the column, I noticed that I was commenting on another school shooting. This one was closer to home in Chardon, Ohio. In that case, a teenager shot six students with a handgun, killing three and seriously wounding others. I will not try to make comparisons to these two incidents except to point out that there are many individuals in this country, especially young people, who must feel tremendous despair and also isolation and feel the need to destroy others’ lives and also their own. Often their despair is fueled by the violence that is in our culture and media and an easy access to weapons that help them carry out their evil desires. As a people of faith, we must play a role in changing this culture while also protecting our young people. The first reading, this Sunday, is taken from the Book of Genesis in which we see God asking the unthinkable – asking Abraham to kill his own son, Isaac. In the end, God stays Abraham’s hand, rejecting his sacrifice but also praising Abraham’s trust. For centuries, Christians have seen this account as a foreshadowing of the sacrifice of Christ on the cross for the sins of humanity. Commenting on this reality in his letter to the Romans, St. Paul states “He who did not spare His own Son but handed Him over for us all, how will He not also give us everything else along with Him?” This is a message that we must get across to those in despair. We do it most of all by our concern for their well-being and happiness.
Sacred Heart and St. John the Baptist