It is hard to believe that Representative Paul Ryan and other legislators are being so loudly criticized by some other politicians for “offering thoughts and prayers” on the horrific shooting at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas. As the Speaker of the House made clear: “It’s disappointing, it’s sad, and this is what you’ll get from the far secular left. People who do not have faith don’t understand faith, I guess I’d have to say. And it is the right thing to do is to pray in moments like this, because you know what? Prayer works. And I know you believe that, and I believe that and when you hear the secular left doing this thing, it’s no wonder you have so much polarization and disunity in this country when people think like that.”
As people of faith, we know the power of prayer; we believe in the power of prayer. It is the most natural and important thing to do for people of faith in times of crisis, in tragedy, and in darkness to turn to God. God is Love. We know that in and through the saving sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the Cross, all evil, sin and even death has been conquered once and for all. Death has no more power over us. But we also know that evil and sin are still part of the human condition and through our sinful humnan condition, evil can break into the lives of all of us – anytime and anywhere. How important it is that we turn to God and lift up the needs of the dead and injured to He who is the source of all life and all good. God hears the prayers of the poor and in his mercy he always answers his people – not always in the way you hope or think is best, but in the way that God knows is best for his people. He stands with us in our sadness, in our grief, in our tragedy and in death. It is the Lord alone who is our strength, our consolation and our hope. In a beautiful witness to the power of prayer, Reverend Frank Pomeroy, pastor of First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs, who lost his 14-year-old daughter and at least 25 other church members in Sunday’s mass shooting, told reporters on Monday that he has decided to “lean into the Lord. I don’t understand, but I know my God does.” Our hearts go out to him and all those who have lost loved ones and to our Christian brothers and sisters who belong to that faith community.
So yes we proudly lift our prayers to God and call upon his power and his love to bring peace to world, to convert human hearts, to bring healing and reconciliation to our nation and to our world. It is a real problem that so many people don’t turn to God in times like this. There are many who don’t believe we need God. But we know differently and as people of faith, as Catholics, we are committed to bringing our faith and our prayers into the hearts and lives of all those around us. Please remember in your prayers every day those who have been killed and wounded in yet another horrific killing spree in our country. Please pray that God’s heart will overflow with healing, with mercy and with love. Pray that God’s power will end the hatred that leads to violence and war. Pray every day with the greatest trust in God that he will be our strength and our hope even in the darkest times of life.