So this wasn’t what I had planned to write about this week. Similar to many priests and their homilies this past Sunday, I had to change at the last minute. This post is going to be on the First Baptist Church shooting in Texas yesterday morning. For a good synopsis on what happened, here is an article from the New York Times.
I turned on the TV yesterday afternoon to find on all the major networks a breaking news alert that there had been a shooting at a Texas church. Like many people (unfortunately) I didn’t feel remorse or regret because this has become an all too common event in this country.
It is likely that many of us young Catholics and Christians, especially those of us that struggle to understand evil in the world, asked yesterday “Why would God let this happen?” We probably asked the same question about New York last week, Vegas last month, the South Carolina church shooting in 2015, or any horrific event that has happened in our society. If God is all knowing and all powerful and all loving, why would he allow evil things like this to happen in our world, especially against his own people?
Well (and I know I’ll get negative feedback for this answer) God gave us free will. The Catechism says this about freedom and free will:
Freedom is the power, rooted in reason and will, to act or not to act, to do this or that, and so to perform deliberate actions on one’s own responsibility. By free will one shapes one’s own life. Human freedom is a force for growth and maturity in truth and goodness; it attains its perfection when directed toward God, our beatitude.
The evil that was committed in these atrocities was an act of free will that was not directed towards God. In the next line of the Catechism it says ” there is the possibility of choosing between good and evil, and thus of growing in perfection or of failing and sinning.”
God did not create a perfect world. He did so within his infinite wisdom*. Within his wisdom he created a world that would have to ultimately progress itself towards perfection.
God cannot stop us from doing stupid things, it would be a violation of our free will. We can stop us from doing stupid things. Now, we may all have to pray for strength or work hard to stop doing stupid things, but we, ourselves, are the only ones that can stop it.
So what are we supposed to do about things like these injustices? There is a whole bunch of political answers that I could give here that I won’t. For now, I’ll stick to a faith based answer. Well first pray for the repose of the souls of those that lost their lives. Then pray for the perpetrator, that this person may be penitential in the face of God. Then pray for the world, that the people of the world will work together to end suffering, injustices, and expedite the perfection of the world.
Oh God, let all of those who have been treated unjustly and have lost their lives because of it, be welcomed into the light of your face. Have mercy on us all we pray, though sinners, we may some day be worthy of standing in your presence and serve you.
May the souls of the faithful departed rest in peace. (Let the Church say) Amen.
There will be a post on the Mass later this week or next.
*for a good explanation of this, click here and scroll down to “Divine Knowledge.”
Editors Note: A previous version of this post had said “The Catechism defines evil as:.” This has been changed to “The Catechism says this about freedom and free will:.”