Nothing has occupied my mind more, since last Sunday, than when in a spate of less than twenty-four hours that day, at least twenty-nine bodies lay lifeless and scores of others left wounded, when heartless shooters unleashed lethal bullets on them in Texas and Ohio. May the souls of the dead rest in eternal peace and may those wounded be healed soon.
First, I must admit that I become very emotional and occasionally cry when I discover that a fellow human being, or indeed a living creature, is unnecessarily deprived of life, tortured or denied justice. Or, when vulnerable orphans, children or elderly people are tortured and denied the basics of life simply because they have no one to protect them. I cried when I watched on Television Pope John Paul II shot, just as I cried when I read about Nelson Mandela and his life imprisonment and also watched when he was released from Robin Island. I cried when Idi Amin was overthrown because of joy and when Joseph Kony a brutal rebel leader in Uganda (who abducted over twenty thousand children and made the young girls sex slaves and young boys, soldiers), was chased out of Uganda. Also, I have always been moved to tears when watching epic films such as, "The Man of all Seasons," "Surviving the Holocaust," and "Jesus of Nazareth."
This, I guess is because I have in my own life gone through so much of some of those including sometimes threat to my own life. As a priest, who is also now a public figure, I get upset when politicians, motivated by political reasons, or public opinion leaders motivated by publicity, explain away these wanton killings and injustice without offering any meaningful solutions to them, incident after incident. As a religious leader, I feel even more ashamed that many times we religious leaders shy away from openly addressing these issues as Christ "My Boss", would have done, and choose to remain silent. In the end, our silence will justify what I believe, Dr. Martin Luther King meant when he said:
"Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter." Or when he also said, "In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends." So dear St. Andrew, let us therefore wait not, for what our political or our religious leaders will do but rather commit to what we can do to end this increasing senseless gun violence in our country through our prayers. Therefore, this week, I ask each one of you to join me every morning before you leave your house in praying the prayer I wrote for this intention, so that this unfolding "Gun Culture" will be replaced by "God Culture." You can find the prayer below.
Sincerely Yours in Christ,
Almighty and loving god, we are honored to call you Abba, Father.
We thank you for making our country, the United States of America,
One of the greatest countries on the face of the Earth, with its vast economies, advanced
Technology, freedom, and great people.
Indeed, we are grateful to you for all these!
However, Father, our gratitude is slowly turning into ingratitude by the abuse of these
Great gifts you have given us.
As we sink deeper and deeper into this abyss of ingratitude through our self-glorification,
We have falsely deluded ourselves into thinking
That we can do whatever we want, whenever we want and
However we want, without any regard for your commandments.
Consequently, Dearest Father,
We are slowly destroying ourselves and our great country.
At this time, Father, our hearts are being broken,
With worrisome frequency,
At the senseless deaths caused by violence.
Many of our families are mourning, our young people live in fear,
Our disregard and alienation from you and from each other is
Causing more and more to turn to violence and hatred
Instead of to You.
We ask that you touch our hearts with your love,
Heal our brokenness with your soothing presence,
And turn us away from violence toward peace;
Peace that only you can provide.
Help us to transform our own hearts
And to seek peaceful ways of resolving our differences
Instead of through violence.
May our voices be heard by you, Dearest Father,
As we ask our legislators to enact gun laws that will protect all in our society,
Especially those most vulnerable.
We pray for a new America,
Where guns will not be needed,
Where fear, violence, and hatred based on race, color, or religion
Will be no more.
Where the greed of the powerful that perpetuates violence
Will give way to voices of peace, global unity, and reconciliation.
Where all of us will experience the joy of belonging to our great country,
America, free from discrimination, bigotry, and violence.
We end our prayer by asking that you grant,
To the people of America,
The joy of belonging to your kingdom of justice, peace, and love.
May God bless America and
May peace reign on Mother Earth.