July 29, 2018

What a tragedy took place on Sunday morning, July 15 in Weymouth: a police officer executed by a young man he was pursuing, and then an elderly woman sitting at home shot and killed by the same assailant. Three families devastated, and their communities and their neighborhoods in mourning. It is beyond my comprehension how this scene plays out over and over in society. There is always a response, which attempts to offer support to those families whose lives are changed forever. There are prayer services, vigils, and funerals that, hopefully, convince those most affected that they are not alone at this tragic time in their lives. I am grateful for those who invite their faith communities to support them during these events.
God is as devastated as we are. I don’t ask “Why did this happen?” because that puts the responsibility on God. I ask “How did this happen?” because that puts the responsibility on the human community where it belongs. One of the greatest gifts to humanity is the gift of freedom. We make choices in our lives, and they all have consequences and repercussions. We may abuse or misuse that freedom, and our decisions take their toll on others (including our loved ones and total strangers). That freedom is essential to being human. People will place the blame for these tragedies on mental health issues, drug addiction and alcoholism, gun control laws, poverty,
and childhood trauma—all of which can play a major part in creating criminal behavior.
I’ve always said that our concept of God plays a major role in our lives because it determines how we view ourselves and others. So many of the individual crimes being committed and the violent behavior wreaking havoc in our communities and our world are committed by those who have no idea how sacred they are to God, and therefore they can only think of themselves. Because they don’t think well of themselves, they are capable of devastating negative behavior. Those receiving psychiatric support and extensive therapy are progressing in their positive self-image. Incarceration is sometimes necessary to protect society from danger. Laws are being debated in Congress every day to make our country a safer place. We now know how important early intervention can be in so many troubled families.

As they say: we are a “work in progress.”

Enjoy Life!
Fr. Coyne


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