June 25-26, 2016

Friends, 

Even though it was Father's Day last weekend, I decided to preach about the massacre that took place in the LGBT club, “Pulse,” in Orlando, Florida. It truly is a tragedy for those families, the LGBT community, our country and the world. There is plenty of blame to go around: religious fanaticism, ISIS, hatred and prejudice, availability of assault weapons, mental health issues, terrorism, etc. 

Coincidentally, last week's reading from Galatians had Paul reminding us that if you are a disciple of Christ then there is “Neither Jew nor Greek, neither slave nor free person; neither male nor female.” We are all one. It sounds great on paper but it seems to be a challenge that cannot be achieved in our everyday life. I interpret Paul's words to mean that if we are followers of Christ then we don't judge others by their religion, their income or their gender. Or, to put it in today's terms: “For those who are baptized there is neither Christian nor Muslim, first world or developing nations, gay or straight.”

It's not like we don't have a role model. Jesus treated everyone as equals: he loved those no one loved, touched those that no one touched, healed those that no one healed and forgave those that no one forgave. 

Once we convince ourselves that our way of life, religious affiliation, sexual orientation or financial status gives us the right to feel superior to others, it seems to be a simple step to take justice into our own hands, either because we believe we are doing God's will, or rescuing society from those who do not deserve to live.

So we add another word to a list of events that need no explanation, e.g. Dallas, 9/11, Sandy Hook, Newtown, Hiroshima, Normandy, Columbine, Calvary, Boston Marathon, Auschwitz, Ferguson and now Orlando. In every one of these tragedies someone lost their lives. Does it make any difference to me what religion they were, or what gender, or their income or orientation? And how sad is that, if it does? How much sadder if I am a disciple of Christ? 

I know some very “religious” people who go to Church and love to quote the Bible and who believe they are among the “saved.” They talk about the tragedy in Orlando in a very different way than I do. They place themselves above the rest of us and manipulate their God as a vengeful, jealous, angry control freak who punishes in this life those who do not obey his rules, laws and commandments. That is contrary to the gospels. 

I watch the news and listen to the news and it is now a confrontation between liberals and conservatives, the second amendment vs. gun control, illegal immigrants vs. devout Muslims, Hillary vs. Trump. There is so much passion on both sides. There is no simple solution because there is so much dissension in society, but I think Jesus was onto something 2000 years ago when he said “Peter, put down your sword.”

Not as easy to…

Enjoy life,
Fr. Coyne  

 

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