The Ash Wednesday Massacre (367)

Create and make in us new and contrite hearts, that we, worthily lamenting our sins and acknowledging our wretchedness, may obtain of you, the God of all mercy, perfect remission and forgiveness – from the Collect for Ash Wednesday

On Ash Wednesday, we had yet another mass shooting in a school, this time in south Florida. The picture of a distraught parent from the school hugging another parent with the visible “ash cross” on her forehead will forever be seared into my memory. More senseless killing by a young man who had legally purchased his semi-automatic rifle, which allowed him to shoot many children and reload quickly, multiplying the carnage. Clearly, the young man who did this unspeakable evil was disturbed mentally. Still, he was allowed to walk into a gun store and purchase this weapon (which all experts say is built specifically to kill many people quickly). What 19-year-old needs a semi-automatic assault rifle? What kind of society allows for a gun sale like that to happen? One in need of “acknowledging our wretchedness,” that kind.

I didn’t even need to read the responses from our elected officials. They all read from the same pre-written script that they’ve read from many times before. They express outrage, assure every one of their prayers, and suggest with a tone of moral indignation that we shouldn’t “politicize” this particular tragedy (or future ones, one assumes). Senator Marco Rubio from Florida said: “I hope people reserve judgment…the facts of this are important.” Yes, facts are important. Later, he said, as soon as these facts are known, then “we can have a deeper conversation about why these things happen.”

Except that “deeper conversation” never happens. These mass killings are the price we pay for the current government’s interpretation of the 2nd Amendment (it hasn’t always been interpreted that way in previous generations). More than 430 people have been shot in 273 school attacks since the massacre at Sandy Hook in 2012 and three of the deadliest have occurred just in the last year. And those numbers, representing the lives of real children, don’t even include the mass shootings in Las Vegas and Orlando.

One of the prime directives of any government is the defense of its citizens, particularly the most vulnerable, like our children. Even those who argue, such as the libertarian view does, for the least governmental activity in the life of its citizens agree that the safety and defense of its citizens is the central role of all government. And yet, the elected officials who run our government do nothing other than offer their condolences and prayers and say how awful it is. How is that defending our children?

In our Ash Wednesday litany just two days ago, we confessed to God “all our past unfaithfulness: the pride, hypocrisy, and impatience of our lives.” Well, I will confess my impatience right now. I’m impatient with the pride and hypocrisy of all of us as we have come to tolerate this evil. We take great pride as Americans. But the truth is this: We’re all a bunch of hypocrites because even as we say we love our children, we continue to allow them to be killed while we have a non-existent “deeper conversation.”



Comments are closed.