Today the Church calls us to rejoice! “Cry out with joy and gladness: for among you is the great and Holy One of Israel.” (Isaiah 12) It is the third Sunday of Advent – Gaudete Sunday, - a time for great joy because, as the prophet Zephaniah tells us: “Fear not, O Zion, be not discouraged! The LORD, your God, is in your midst, a mighty savior.” (Zephaniah 3)
You might say, “How is it possible to rejoice this day in light of the terrible tragedy that happened in Newton, Conn. on Friday?" We do not rejoice with our emotions because of the sadness but we rejoice with our hearts because Jesus, our Savior and Redeemer is in our midst and as He reminds us in the Book of Revelation, “he will wipe away all tears from their eyes; there will be no more death, and no more mourning or sadness or pain. The world of the past has gone.” (Rev. 21:4)
However, we are living in the present but our hope is in Heaven where everything will make sense and there will be no more pain and death.
“Where was God in all of this?’ so many people ask. Well, He was right there in that classroom, guiding those little souls to Paradise – and the souls of those courageous and heroic adult teachers who tried to save them.
“Why does God permit this?” God created each one of us and we were born with both intellect and free will. We have the ability to think and to reason and to make choices, whether for good or for evil. In order to make good choices our consciences must be formed for the good; if they are not formed for good, because of the pull of Original Sin, there will be nothing to hold us back from making evil choices. Our consciences can be dulled by mental illness, drugs, our lack of religious formation, the culture in which we live. The perpetrator of this heinous crime made an evil choice and for what reason we do not know. Perhaps God could have put something in his way but we are not robots or automatons. The way we exercise our free will must sometimes make Him very sad but He will never take our free will away. He wants us to choose to love – to choose Him.
He is rich in mercy and the ocean of his mercy has no limit. Let us beg Him for his mercy for the families and the entire town effected by this massive tragedy. In this Year of Faith with its emphasis on the New Evangelization, let us decide that we must, we must speak out and spread the Gospel to everyone we know so that consciences can be formed for the good. We must do our part!