I have been staring at a blank screen for half the day. Ever since Sunday, I have been trying how to respond to the deadly shooting that took place in Orlando last Saturday night. The shooting where 50 people lost their lives and even more were injured raises so many issues. It raises the issue of the treatment of LGBTQ people. It raises the issue of mental illness. Many overlook the fact that it was Latino/a night at Pulse and a majority of the victims were Latino/a. The shooting raises the issue of gun safety and gun control. Another facet is if it was a terrorist attack. Yet another facet that has been raised is the vilification of immigrants and Muslims.
How are we, as Christians, how are we supposed to respond to a shooting that took place almost a thousand miles away from us? How do we respond to a hate crime hurting so many people? I have heard many people call for prayer and for moments of silence.
Prayer is a good place to start. I believe the God hears our prayers and that there is power in prayer. Please, pray. Pray for the victims. Pray for the families. Pray for everyone affected. Pray for peace. Pray for an end to the violence. But don’t stop there.
When we pray, we should also be acting on our prayers. Jesus teaches the disciples the Lord’s prayer and it is obvious that prayer is not a passive action, but one that also requires action on our part. In the Lord’s prayer, we pray “Thy kingdom come, on Earth as it is in heaven.” We are claiming our responsibility to work towards bringing forth the Kingdom of Heaven here on Earth. We also pray “forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us”. Again, in order to receive God’s forgiveness, we are called, ourselves, to forgive. Prayer is a good place to start, but we cannot stop there.
So how do we respond? We respond with love. After all, Paul wrote to the Corinthians, “And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love. ” 1 John reminds us “Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love.” In light of these scriptures, Martin Luther King Jr reminds us that “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”
Utah’s lieutenant governor Spencer Cox said in response to the shooting, “May we leave today with a resolve to be a little kinder,” Cox said. “May we try to listen more and talk less. May we forgive someone that has wronged us. And perhaps, most importantly, try to love someone that is different than us.”
When we hear somebody say that the shooting was divine retribution, we should respond with love. When we hear that the shooter is representative of all followers of Islam, we should respond with love. When we encounter someone who disagrees with us on how to best protect ourselves from gun violence, we must respond with love.
In light of the violence and the hatred that this shooting has brought to the surface, we are to remember that we are called to be a light in the darkness. We are called to love. We cannot remain silent. I proudly say that I stand with the LGBTQ community. I stand with our brothers and sisters of Muslim faith. And I choose love. I hope you are willing to do the same.
Mark 12:30-31 “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”