Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Thoughts on Boston Bombings--Daily Mass Homily: Tuesday, April 17th (CSS)

           Next to my faith community and family, the greatest group I have been a part of is composed of runners.  One of the consistent features of members of our running community is it made up of good people who embody discipline, encouragement and perseverance.  Yesterday, this community was devastated by the two bombs that went off near the finish line of the Boston marathon.
            Now this is no ordinary marathon.  You can’t just sign up—in fact, you have to meet a time standard that is difficult to reach.  Those running in Boston yesterday didn’t just achieve an amazing human feat—completing a marathon—but probably were achieving a dream of theirs.  Some probably trained for years to make it to the starting line of that race—it took me ten years to qualify and it is still a dream of mine to compete in this world-class event.
            This is a tragedy of bad things done by bad people to the innocent.  In the face of such tragedies, whether abroad or in your own life, how are we to respond? 
We have an exemplary model in our first reading today in St. Stephen.  Here, too, an innocent man faced wicked men who stoned him to death.  How did he respond?  First, Stephen looked to Jesus and said, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.”  Our first response to tragedy ought to be the same—looking to Christ.
            Second, Stephen prayed for the very ones who were killing him.  Lord, do not hold this sin against them.”  Our first reaction to the bombings in Boston was probably one of revenge.  Both analysts on TV and our leaders are promising justice, and to me I hear hints of bloodlust.  Yet as Christians we must remember Jesus died for those responsible for this attack as much as you and me. 
            It is a good thing the early Christians took forgiveness seriously.  Had they sought revenge by a death sentence they would have killed one of our greatest saints—Paul. 
            Today, or whenever bad things happen to good people, we ought to commend our spirits to God.  We must also forgive.  Only God knows the plans in store for the attackers in Boston and we must pray for their conversion.
            We pray this evening for those who lost their lives in the bombing at the Boston Marathon.  We pray for those in critical and serious condition now.  We pray for the families, friends and spectators who saw atrocious things and who will be grieving this day for the rest of their lives.  For those still reeling from this tragedy, we offer this Mass, asking that God may “…be [their] rock of refuge, a stronghold to give [them] safety.  You are [their] rock and [their] fortress; for your name’s sake you will lead and guide [them].”

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