The Parkland Shooting and the 1st Sunday of Lent, Year B – Homily

1st Sunday of Lent, Year B
Genesis 9:8-15
Psalm 25:4-5, 6-7, 8-9 (10)
1 Peter 3:18-22
Mark 1:12-15
February 18, 2018

Our readings today begin by taking us back to the time of Noah.  The world had given into sin.  Noah and his family were the last of the faithful.  Because of so much sin, God made it rain for forty days and forty nights till the whole world was flooded.  Only Noah and those in the ark with him were saved.

Once the flood was over God established a covenant with his people, “that never again shall all bodily creatures be destroyed by the waters of a flood, there shall not be another flood to devastate the earth.”

As a reminder of his promise God provides a sign of this covenant, the “bow in the clouds.”  We like to see rainbows for their beauty.  People will also talk about a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.  The rainbow does indeed signify a great treasure to us but not gold.  The treasure shown in the rainbow is God’s love.

The world had become a place of sin leading to the great flood.  What does God think of the world today?

What does God think of the political bickering while people suffer?

What does God think of the change in morals?  Actually, I shouldn’t say “change in morals” because God hasn’t changed the morals.  Many just don’t listen to what God teaches.  We give into temptation.  Some don’t even see it as a sin, so it isn’t temptation.

What does God think of the distance between the rich and poor?

What does God think of the violence in the world?

What does God think of the shooting at the high school in Parkland, Florida?

I believe God cries when these things happen.

God and his angels were there when the shooting happened.  God is with all those involved right now.  Jesus knows what it is like to suffer.  Jesus is walking hand in hand with all those who suffer because of this shooting.

Of course, people immediately began talking about gun control and what could have been done to stop this before it happened.

Unfortunately, it looks like the FBI was alerted of a possible threat but the response was not enough.

There are students talking now about how the shooter, Nikolas Cruz, was troubled.

While this shooting was going this week, there was another case where a grandmother found her grandson’s writings that were very disturbed and planned violence.  She called the police and they arrested him before anything happened.  This week is a lesson in the importance of telling the police when we feel someone is going astray.

It can be very tempting to rush to put the blame all on the shooter.  The FBI will have to answer for the failure to follow up on some tips.

It can be tempting to push the blame away and say that will never happen here.  We think we don’t need to worry.  That’s what Satan wants us to think.  That way we don’t watch for warning signs.  If we see things that should serve as a warning, we don’t really pay attention because we think it won’t happen here.

I plead with you that if you see behaviors, whether it be actions or just words on social media, that raise concern, please tell the authorities.

This is a very difficult time for the people of Parkland in Florida.  There are 3,000 students at that school.  How many lives are forever affected by what happened?

It’s not just the students.  There are the teachers and all the school staff.  There are the families.  There are all the emergency responders.  There are many people directly affected by this.  Indirectly, this affects many more in other schools and communities who once again wonder if this could ever happen in their school.

For us, our worry may pass soon.  Parkland is over 1,300 miles from here.  Will we remember or will we quickly forget?

We need to pray for the people of Parkland.  We pray that God’s angels be ministering to them.  We pray that they know God’s presence among them.

I hope you all agree with me on our need to pray for these people.  There is one more person we need to pray for, Nikolas Cruz.  He is the 19-year-old boy who committed this shooting.  Often in mass shootings, it seems like the perpetuator ends up being killed too.  Not this time.

In this case, Nikolas survives.  There will be those who will call for harsh punishment, perhaps even the death penalty.  They will do so in the name of “justice” but what many will really want is “revenge.”

We must pray for “justice” but as the Lord sees it.  Those seeking revenge may try to dehumanize Nikolas.  I know what I am about say may not be popular but Nikolas is a child of God.  I don’t know if he was ever told about God and his love for us.  Was he ever taught the commandments?  If so, why didn’t he follow them?

I don’t know.  It doesn’t make sense.  It will probably never make sense.  He was a troubled youth.  His father died when he was young.  His mother died just three months ago.  That does NOT excuse what he did but it reveals him as one who suffered.  Did he have anyone who loved him.  Even if Nikolas doesn’t know Jesus, Jesus knows him and loves him.

Here, I just want to mention that I am grateful for the small group of men in our parish who lead a Bible study at our county jail for the male prisoners to help them know Jesus.

There must be consequences for Nikolas’ actions.  There can be little doubt that he will spend a long time either in prison and/or a mental facility.  This is part of justice.

That being said, we need to pray for Nikolas.  That is a response of love.  Love must be our response for if we respond with hate, the hate will only grow.

We need to pray for his conversion.  We need to pray that he “repent, and believe in the gospel.”  If he does, then, while knowing he needs to accept the consequences of his actions in this world, we need to let the mercy of God fall upon him.

Pray for all those involved.  Please pray for Nikolas and you will find God.

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