People were shopping, here in El Paso, getting ready to send their children back to school and help them get the education that provides a level of economic security for their futures. Attending school means our children will find better jobs someday, with opportunities for developing their skills, their intellects, their social abilities, their values and their spiritual lives.
But for all our planning for the future, the unexpected can make rubble of our dreams and plans, just as it did to the rich person in Jesus' parable, in today's reading. Peace and security, he thought he had found, Jesus tells us. But the rich person was wrong. Our deepest sense of security lies not in economic planning for the future (and much less in buying assault weapons). Our only real security in life is God, who invites us to live in a certain way that brings peace, joy and an attitude of service.
When we rely upon God for our happiness and security, we will find ourselves at odds with others. We will discover that we are a threat, and in conflict with the distorted ideals of intolerant, racist groups of individuals. Such groups reject a faith that calls for justice, or to welcome the migrant, or to live in service to those who suffer. Such people decide to blame the outsider, the migrant, an ethnic group not their own, for their problems, and may decide to act on such lies. They allow violence to manifest the influence of sin on the human heart. They take away the lives of others.
The security, peace and happiness of the way of Christ leads us to experience the strength of the Spirit and the unity of the Body of Christ, fed by Christ's Body and Blood and partnered with God as his adopted children. No amount of money can bring us any sort of substitute, no show of violence can ever turn us away, when even our deaths are transformed into a doorway to New Life.
We do not need people to tell us what to fear, how to live each day anxiously, fretting about our enemies and storing away material wealth for a supposed coming chaos. We need only live as God invites us to live, in service to others and in the peace and joy of God's Reign, already planted in our hearts.
As we mourn our fallen, and come together as a community, many of us believe that the mercy of God has led the victims of today's violence into the place of everlasting joy, the joy of the victory of life over death, in the liberating presence of God. God knows in the flesh of Jesus Christ the pain and suffering of violence, and frees our own lives from the irrational schemes of those lost in hatred. We won't find a greater security than that.
Robert Mosher SSC is a Columban priest, based at the Columban Mission Center in El Paso, United States.
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