Dear parishioners and friends of Gesu,
In the wake of the recent and horrific gun violence perpetrated in El Paso, TX and Dayton, OH, I am compelled to share some thoughts of mine. These thoughts arise from my principle identity as a disciple of Jesus Christ and my current ministry and responsibility as Pastor of our parish.
First, violence, whether rhetorical or physical, that is promulgated against another person because they are other or different from us is a moral evil. This applies to all perpetrators of violence, from those who hold the highest office in our country to every other citizen of our democracy.
The fundamental tenet of Catholic Social Teaching is respect for the dignity of every human person, created in the image and likeness of God. Clearly, the ongoing spate of gun violence in our country, perpetrated by those who denigrate the other person as other than themselves, egregiously violates this tenet by taking innocent human lives. Their words and actions constitute a moral evil.
Second, the sacred scriptures, both Hebrew and Christian, at times, attribute violent words and actions to God. Scripture scholars and commentators remind us to place such scriptural texts in the proper historical and social contexts in which they were written.
The full or complete revelation of those scriptures, manifested for the Christian in the life and death of Jesus Christ, displaces all such attributions to God, according to the measure, as the Gospels attest, in which Jesus lived. A God who willingly suffers an ignominious death on the cross does not promulgate violence in any form, rhetorical or physical. As the dying Jesus declares, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do" (Lk. 23:34).
Third, all who profess true faith in Jesus must reject violence perpetrated against the other person as other or different than us, e.g. white supremacist groups. Else, one is only a Christian in name, but not in deed and word. One is, in short, a hypocrite-- a term Jesus himself used (e.g. against the Pharisees) for those who profess one thing but live another.
Fourth, our prayers and thoughts for victims of such violence is important and necessary, no doubt. But they are not alone enough. We must, as Christians, in respectful and forthright ways, actively work to reject and counter the promulgation of violence, whether rhetorical or physical, by our own words and actions.
We must, in effect, decry violence from whatever quarter of our country such virulentvoices and actions arise. We must work for peace and greater justice among all of God's people.
We may incur the criticism of some people for these labors; but, in a much greater measure, we will reap the grace and love of God, who sees no distinction between race, religion or economic status, but attends to all who profess and worship his Holy Name.
Fr. Jim Flaherty, SJ