The Knockdown Question

For many of us - especially after looking at the printed cover of The New York Times which carries the names and ages of Friday's victims - no words begin to express the anguish, anger, and confusion we feel. This is not to say we haven't tried: already, the pundits are questioning whether this will be the event that catalyzes stricter gun-control laws and 'experts' are speculating as to the root causes of this young man's actions.

We turn, apparently instinctively, to any resource we can find in a frantic search for answers. We crave reasons, proofs, formulas,

Sadly, I don't think there is any single answer or proof. Right now, there's a great void of silence punctuated by angry shouts to the heavens and tears. Many tears.

The Australian poet Les Murray wrote a brilliant poem that I'd like to share:
Why does God not spare the innocent?

The answer to that is not in
the same world as the question
so you would shrink from me
in terror if I could answer it. 
I think it is natural to ask "Why?" this happened. Indeed, we are all wondering. Yet, it seems to me, Murray grasps well something of the essential mysteriousness of our humanity: we ask questions that leap beyond the realm of space and time. There is no single answer, no correct bubble we can fill in that will tell us "Why" a young man would take the guns from his mother's home, murder her, and then more than twenty others.

I cannot help but to think of Job 28. The poem begins by lauding the accomplishments of human reason and ingenuity: we can mine precious metals and jewels from the earth's depths, but can we obtain wisdom? Search as we may, wisdom comes only from God and comes as it pleases...it is something that finds us, not something we search out.

For me, it's difficult to feel the joy of today's Advent readings. Nevertheless, I think there is something important we can take from them: John proclaims that Jesus is coming and that he brings us a baptism of the Holy Spirit and fire. Jesus brings to us the principle of life, his life, and offers it to each of us. He gives us, that is, a share in his life and offers us his Wisdom.

Perhaps our prayer can simply be this:

Come to us, Lord, for we are scared and afraid.
We have seen the terrors of this world and we have 
taken refuge in the basement of our hearts.
On cold concrete we sit, huddled up in the dark,
alone and afraid. 
Break down the door and rescue us from our fear.
Take us by the hand and guide us with your Wisdom,
not giving us answers, 
but the assurance that you are the author of life
and that you will have the last word to our questions. 
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