Another shooting? Reflections 10-4-17

For Sunday October 8, 2017

 Psalm 80

 There are 150 psalms in the Bible. They are sorted into different categories depending on their use/content. Psalm 80, assigned this week, is in the category “lament”. Which is helpful. With a week that starts with news of a mass shooting, I am in a lamenting mood. Actually, I was already lamenting the 3 major hurricanes, countless wildfires, and several earthquakes, floods, and mudslides in the past month.

A lament is an expression of grief or sorrow; a passionate expression of grief or sorrow; a formal expression of sorrow or mourning. In a lament psalm, the “speaker” addresses God directly on the occasion of some calamity; many accuse God of “dereliction of duty". Some are individual laments regarding a personal situation. And some of the laments are considered communal laments. Those express deep sorrow for the travails of their nation and as a group ask for God's blessing or intervention.

Our nation’s continuing experience with mass shooting after mass shooting certainly seems like the time for lament.

However, then there are those memes and comments on social media, mocking “thoughts and prayers” as a response. I get it. It sounds trite and meaningless.

I agree that we do need to confront all the complex factors that lead to these incidents. We need action on the widespread availability of guns that can so easily and quickly kill many, many people. In addition, other shootings have pointed to the need to pay attention to societal and personal issues like bullying, heterosexism, mental illness, and substance abuse. And we need to address our country’s overwhelming violence in general.

One other that really isn’t fitting anywhere in this strain of thoughts: stocks of companies that manufacture and sell guns went up after this shooting. Really?

There is no neat and tidy wrap up for this reflection.

So, I close with portions of a prayer by James Martin, SJ on the from the website of America: the Jesuit review. Click here to read the whole thing. 

I am tired, God.
I’m tired of the unwillingness to see this as an important issue.
I’m tired of those in power who work to prevent any real change.
I’m tired of those who say that gun violence can’t be reduced.
All this makes me tired.
But I know that the tiredness I feel is your tiredness.
It’s the same tiredness that Jesus felt after his own struggles against injustice
that led him to fall asleep on the boat with his disciples.
I am angry, God.
I’m angry at the seeming powerlessness of our community to prevent this.
I’m angry at the selfish financial interests who block change.
I’m angry that these shootings happen at all.
But I know that this anger is your anger
It’s the same anger Jesus felt when he overturned the tables in the Temple,
angry that anyone would be taken advantage of in any way…
… Help me see in these emotions your own desire for change.
Help me see in these feelings your moving me to act.
Help me see in these reactions your pushing me to do something.

Turn my sadness into compassion.

Turn my tiredness into advocacy.
Turn my paralysis into the freedom to act.

Please share your own thoughts and prayers in the comment section below.

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123 E Market Street
Iowa City, IA 52245