“A voice is heard in Ramah,
weeping and great mourning,
Rachel weeping for her children
and refusing to be comforted,
because they are no more.”
Jeremiah 31:15; Matthew 2:18
On a dark day King Herod the Great ordered the killing of all male children two years and younger in Bethlehem in what has been called “The Massacre of the Innocents.”
Today we mourn the violent death of 19 young children at an elementary school in Texas, and two teachers. It is a new massacre of innocents in a long string of school shootings.
Jesus told us we are “blessed” when we mourn, and that means we must mourn rather than becoming indifferent to acts of evil. Evil insinuates itself when it succeeds in making us feel there is nothing we can do. The Beatitudes also tell us that we are “blessed” when we “hunger and thirst for righteousness” and when we take the role of “peacemakers.”
There are many professionals whose work is peacemaking, and we need to pray for them and support them. Law enforcement, criminal justice workers, educators, mental health professionals, and many others. Safety and security in a community comes from a network of collaborators. We will never eliminate violence, but we can lessen it.
We don’t need vigilantes, we need vigilance. Followers of Jesus are called to do more than passively wait for the next person to draw his gun. Our Lord and Savior commands us to close the gap with people rejected by others. To connect with the wounded before they lash out and wound others. To bring down the level of tension and stress around us by living in shalom.
It was said of Jesus: “A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out “(Matt. 12:20). The next person in our community who may act out in violence is right now, today, somewhere, a bruised reed. A smoldering wick. Will we notice that person? Will we help that person back away from the edge of the cliff? Law enforcement officers cannot and should not supervise everybody’s lives. Our laws define civil behavior, but they cannot tame human personalities. Will we watch out for potential victims? And will we have the courage to watch out for potential aggressors?