“It is something very near to you, already in your mouths and in your hearts;
you have only to carry it out.”
We often read these words as an affirmation of the Spirit that dwells within us, of the presence of God’s love and call to live that love in the world. That is all very true and very necessary. Today I think we need to see this as a reminder of another essential truth.
In this moment, perhaps instead of focusing on ourselves, this is a call to focus on the presence of God in the other. If we give this precedence, give this full weight, what are the implications? What are we called to do? What are we asked to see, hear, and speak in the moment?
This past Monday a community I know well was the most recent to experience yet another massive attack resulting in mass murder of several individuals. This happened in one of the wealthiest areas of the United States. Many have already highlighted how this horrible shooting at a parade happened just north of the city where gun violence has become ubiquitous to the point of a reduction to a political point or a factor in the cold calculations of businesses leaving the area.
The Gospel bears the words that both the Gospels and the Old Testament speak –
“You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your being, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.”
This goes beyond being merely nice to our neighbors or even clearing a day to serve our neighbors. To truly love one another as we are to love God, as God loves us, is to change the systems that permit harm to our neighbor. In this moment, we have to recognize that this means the plague of guns upon our nation. If we are truly a people of faith who value life, we cannot ignore this consistent, persistent, and widespread attack on life in our nation.
We are a people called to serve the common good. The common good is not served by the present gun laws. We are a people called to protect innocent lives. Innocent lives are lost due to gun violence and the ineffective gun laws of our nation.
The summary of the Gospel and its commandments are to love God and love our neighbor. I ask you to take some time to honestly examine your conscience in light of today’s Gospel – can we say we are loving our neighbors when we permit such atrocities to occur? I encourage you to spend time praying with this and then to take action. A simple online search will help you find resources to advocate locally and nationally. Reach out to your government representatives at every level – local, state, and federal.
I have quoted it before here and return to it again –
“Freedom consists not in doing what we like, but in having the right to do what we ought.” St. Pope John Paul II
We are privileged and blessed with great freedom in this country. Let us use that to do what we ought – called to love our neighbor let us act to live a consistent ethic of life and curb the plague of gun violence in our nation.
We can choose to wage the ubiquitous war against the culture or we can respond to the words Moses speaks just after today’s first reading ends and as Jesus invites us to do in the Gospel -
“See, I have today set before you life and good, death and evil.
I call heaven and earth today to witness against you:
I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse.
Choose life, then, that you and your descendants may live.”
Deuteronomy 30:15, 19
May we choose life. May we choose to follow Jesus’ commandment. May we choose life.