Mourners will gather tonight in Tucson, Arizona for a Memorial Mass at St. Odilia’s Church for victims of Saturday’s tragic shooting.
Amidst the unspeakable sadness and act of remembrance, there is a beautiful poignancy to the purpose of such ritual. As part of the Catholic rite of the Mass, communion will be shared. While there are distinctives regarding communion among various traditions, it remains a vital part of Christian worship for believers the world over. To reenact Christ’s Last Supper is to be reminded not just of Jesus’ sacrificial death, but the hope His rising from the dead brings to those of the Christian faith.
In other words, there is hope to be found in the aftermath of tragedy. That’s because we believe God can redeem all sorrow and heal the heart that is broken.
Regrettably, there has been a deluge of accusation and innuendo surrounding possible motives behind the shooting. I think former President Reagan might have said it best when he once cautioned, “We must reject the idea that every time a law’s broken, society is guilty rather than the lawbreaker. It is time to restore the American precept that each individual is accountable for his actions.”
We are deeply saddened, and share in the mourning and grief of the loss of sacred life. Every life has dignity and worth, and this kind of tragedy underscores that evil is real and exists in the world. We offer our sympathy and prayers to the families affected.
What happened on Saturday in Tucson is a tragedy, not a talking point. We shouldn’t focus on pundits or politics but the victims of the attack. Not only does politicizing the horror coarsen and cheapen public service but it also blocks the truly heroic and selfless stories that came out of this crime in Arizona.
These stories deserve to be known: People selflessly giving their lives so that U.S. House Speaker John Boehner’s words were well put: “An attack on one who serves is an attack on all who serve.”others might live, in the way that Jesus tells us to lay down our lives for our friends.
Representative Heath Shuler (D-NC) struck an instructive and cautious tone when he said, “We must do everything in our power to keep free and open lines of communication between members of Congress and their constituents, while ensuring everyone’s safety.”
Tim Goeglein, who serves on our team in Washington D.C., has reflected that even on this Tuesday morning, he sees that from this evil has come something good.
“The level of political toxicity and difference that does in fact exist inside the Beltway has been lessened,” he shared with me, “and replaced by prayer, mourning, mutuality, and unity. The prayer service in the Capitol Building Monday was an important moment of bringing our concerns as Americans to God, seeking and welcoming His solace, comfort, tender-heartedness, and healing for those families so badly impacted by the assassination attempt and subsequent killings.”
Tragedies of this kind have a way of bringing our country back to first principles. They compel us to focus on the people who matter so profoundly to us in a lifetime that is so fleeting to begin with.