Homily for the Memorial of St. Philip Neri
“Amen, amen, I say to you, you will weep and mourn, while the world rejoices; you will grieve, but your grief will become joy.”
Over the last couple of days now, we, as a country, have certainly been grieving with the news of yet another national tragedy. The lives of 19 little ones and 2 teachers have been taken from us too soon. Who knows why this person acted as he did? Quite obviously, he was a very troubled young man who himself had been filled with so much grief and hurt that this was the way that he acted out.
When I was on my pastoral year a few years ago, I gave a reflection the morning after the shooting at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School down in Parkland. Actually, one of my classmates was assigned to the nearest Catholic Church in Parkland that year. He had a front row seat to all that was happening in the aftermath of that horrific shooting. As a country, we vowed, “this will never happen again” and there were multiple national conversations about gun control and school safety and mental health counseling and foster care reform and you name it. But it didn’t solve the problem. Why? Because we’re focusing on the wrong issues.
We need to have a serious conversation about what is truly causing these mass shootings to happen. It’s the same issue that is at work when we see the division that is taking place in our country based on political lines. It’s the same issue that underlies the abortion debate. It’s the same issue that underlies racial tensions that have plagued our country as of late. It’s the same issue that underlies the lack of motivation to solve our homelessness problems. It’s the same issue that has led to all of our problems…it’s really two issues. A lack of respect for the dignity of the human person (what Pope Francis and others before him have called the culture of death) and a lack of reliance on God.
Our world is never going to be able to solve the problems that we face until we return to an appreciation and respect for all human life. And that won’t happen until we return to God. Until that happens, we will continue to weep and mourn; we will continue to grieve. But one day, that grief will become joy…when we finally make it to the one place where there is no hatred, where there is no division, where there is no violence, where there is no evil…our joy will only be fulfilled when we enter into the dwelling that God has prepared for us in Heaven. Until then, we pray for the grace to persevere in the struggle and to never lose sight of what’s truly important.