The world is supposed to end this coming Friday, 12-21-12, the last day of the Mayan Calendar. I confess I had not given it much thought until yesterday (Friday). And then, with the unfolding of the events in Newtown, Connecticut, I thought, “Maybe it would be a good thing if the world would end.” I, like you, find myself horrified at the thought of such a slaughter of the innocents. And find myself appalled that such killing also goes on in abortion clinics, though in a much more hidden form. And I am dismayed at the drone attacks sanctioned by our government. I am weary of the endless cycle of wars. I am saddened by the drug addiction in our nation that fuels the cartels of power and violence. I am tired of the paralysis of politics and a civil discourse marked more by hard lines drawn in the sand than a seeking of the common good. I am tired of a nation of victims. I am… I am… I am… The list is long. I am so ready for that kind of world to end.
I hope you share that sentiment. Maybe our lists of the things we are ‘tired of’ or ‘horrified at’ or ‘appalled by’ differ. But what is clearer to me now than it was before Friday, is the need for that kind of world of ours to end. But you know, the tough part about that desire is ‘that kind of world’ is ‘this world of ours’. It is all tragically and wonderfully mixed together. There is no dualism, no good world over here and bad world over there, as if to say we can isolate one from the other. It is all one. It is all one.
And so the question asked of John the Baptist, that has always been perhaps THE practical question for believers to wrestle with, takes a more urgent twist after Friday’s events. “What is it that we should do?” What ARE we to do? John the Baptist, responding to those direct questions in his day, had some very practical and doable suggestions, based on the concrete lives of the soldiers and tax collectors and crowds that came to him. So, ala John the Baptist, what is it that WE should do, after a Newtown, Connecticut?
- Pray. Obviously and firstly for the families of the victim. Get down on your knees and just surround that community with your loving presence in prayer. That is the easy and obvious response. Here is the wild-man John the Baptist response: Pray for the shooter, who is likewise dead. If we can’t learn to pray for an ‘enemy’ who is no longer a physical threat to us, then how will we ever learn to pray for one who is?
- Examine your ‘conversations’ of the last week, whether on the phone, face to face, on your facebook page or blog spot or twitter account: Are those conversations marked by angry or hurtful words? Are there things there that perpetuate the hatred and violence, the addictions or compulsions that so need to end in our world? Remove them today from your electronic media. Ask forgiveness on the phone or in person to the one you spoke them to. Do not let the sun go down on your anger. “Or as a friend of mine says: ‘Take the ugly out of your world’.
- Parents: We become so aware of our love for our children and our wanting to protect them and hold them and keep them safe. Use this opportunity to look at that balance between work and home, between the things you must do to support that family and the actual time you spend with your family. Do you like what you see? Kids, you are not off the hook. Take a moment to share with your mom and dad something that is important in your world every day. Or, in one of my favorite lines from the movie Men in Black II, Agent “K”, after just neuralizing a family says: “You will love and cherish each other for the rest of your life. To which Agent J replies: Which could be the next 27 or 28 minutes …” Or in this case, if the Mayans were right – 6 days. So get busy loving and cherishing.”
- Concretely, I will post the address of the Catholic parish, St. Rose of Lima, in Newtown, Ct. in the bulletin next week. Adopt one of the three priests or deacons, or woman religious in your prayer as they work with the families, and send them a quick note of your support.
Maybe the world will end on this Friday. I don’t know. But after this past Friday, it is clear that many things have to change before the Kingdom arrives in its fullness. In the mean time, the question still remains: What is it we should do?