I had a homily prepared for last weekend. It was brilliant. But then came last Friday and the evnts in Newtown, CT. My homily was no longer suitable. When a Christian community gathers in the wake of something so horrible as Newtown, it is important to try to bring the light of faith to the reality of the moment. So here is my thought.
As the news began to emerge in the media that first graders and some adults had been slaughtered the country was left on a state of shock, and then in anger. There is frustration that this could have happened yet again after Columbine, Virgina Tech and Aurora. And there was a profound sadness.
I cannot begin to imagine the pain of those families. There are no words to make it better. The lost cannot be brought back. The evil cannot be undone. And there will be no justice since the one who did the deed is also gone.
All that remains is a wail – a cry from the heart.
That cry is a prayer. It is not the beautiful, sophiscated prayer of our revised Roman Missal, full of poetry and ancient allusions. But it is the most genuine of prayers.
And it is the Advent prayer. If I try to put that wail into words this is how it would come out: “O God, come to us! We need you!”
The horrible event strips away the quaint and charming nature of Advent and it leaves exposed the raw human condition. We are not our own masters. We are vulnerable. Sometimes that comes as a shock. We try mightily to hide it and deny it. But there it was this week, the raw truth, on full display for all to see. I thought this week of the Holy Innocents, the chldren of Bethlehem killed on the order of King Herod, and I thought of the words of scripture read on their feast day: “A voice was heard in Ramah – sobbing and loud lamentation – Rachel weeping for her children. And she would not be consoled since they were no more.”
Standing before the truth of ourselves this is what we humans do: we cry out. And the cry is: maranatha, come Lord. Come quickly and save us. We cry it out with tears. And this time when we say it, we really mean it.
Lord, let your glory dawn to take away or darkness. Amen.