On Friday, December 14, 2012, in Newtown, Connecticut a man used the energy of his life, and he used guns and bullets to take the lives of twenty school children, six school staff, his own mother and finally himself.
No one knows what to say in moments like this. But we utter many things about God. Do we really mean these things?
I am devastated to hear how many people, the President included, have said that God called those children to heaven.
What can that mean?
Do we mean that everything happens according to God’s plan? If we mean that, then the shooter does God’s will. And if we mean that then God’s love is expressed in the murderous bullet. And that renders love meaningless. That renders God meaningless. Are we so attached to the idol of the all powerful deity that we allow God’s love to be misshapen into murderous hate? If we do, then that is the God who is perpetrator of all vile acts.
There is something wrong with a theology that can say that the God of love is the God who ‘called’ those murdered children and adults home, to heaven. No! God did not ‘call’ anyone home to heaven from their day at school.
I am devastated to hear how many people have said that God abandoned those children because we have banished God from our public schools.
What can that mean?
How puny and petty is the God who would withhold love, care, concern, and protection for human beings because there is no public worship of God in public schools!? How can that be God? The answer is, that cannot be God.
There is something wrong with a theology that can say that the God of love is the God who chose not to save innocent adults and children from a murderer’s bullets. No! God did not withhold protection in a petty or angry display of the worst of human attributes.
God Is Love.
If the statement God is love means anything at all, it means that God felt, and grieved, and suffered the death of each precious victim.
If the statement God is love means anything at all, it means, quite to the contrary of the will of that God, that those victims were sent to their deaths by a murderer; they were not called out of life by God.
If the statement God is love means anything at all, it means, the murderer defied the will of God, defied God’s tender care for all creatures. God did not empower the murderer by rescinding love, care, concern or protection. A God who would do that is the worst imaginable villain.
The divine love is not complicit in their deaths. The divine love does not call the victims out of their lives. The divine love does not withhold protection.
The divine love enfolds the lost with tenderness and care. The divine love enfolds the mourning with tenderness and care.
And what now?
The divine love bursts forth in our new possibilities to remake our world in the image and likeness of love that gives without limit; love that rains blessing unreservedly on even the supposedly undeserving.
The divine love beckons us to be a new creation together: a new creation that tends to the tortured lives of our fellow sojourners, a new creation that calms the cowardice of the violent among us, a new creation that meets the stranger with an open hand and an open heart.
Make no mistake. God is calling. But, calling to us. Here. Now. To hear the call, we must incline the ears of our hearts–so says St. Benedict. Listen. What is God calling us to do differently in the coming days? What is God calling us to become together?
(photo credit: © Paul Joseph Greene)