This past Sunday an armed man entered a Baptist church in Sutherland Springs, TX and opened fire on those who had gathered to worship killing 26 people. More mourning, more suffering, more senseless death. This time, explicitly directed at our brothers and sister in Christ, whether because of their faith itself or simply because their gathering was a convenient target. Either way it is fitting that our Gospel Lesson this past Sunday was from St. Matthew 5:1-12. Verse 4 reads: "Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted."
We mourn together with the families of the victims. We mourn together with the Church universal. We mourn together with our nation which is so stricken with gun violence (unlike any other 1st-world country). But we also give thanks that through Jesus we have hope to find eternal comfort.
In the wake of this shooting, many may mock faith and prayer, suggesting that if prayer worked this shooting never would have happened. They misunderstand. For in vv. 10-12 of the Gospel reading Jesus says: "Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you."
Jesus never promised earthly protection, safety, and warm-fuzzy feelings for his followers. Quite the opposite. While we mourn the loss of our brothers and sisters, as well as lament the idiocy of violence and death, we are not surprised or shaken in our faith. For we shall be comforted. And we are blessed.
Let us reach out in love to comfort others. Let us pray for the victims' families and for the family of the perpetrator. And let us be a part of virtuous change in this earthly society of which we are citizens, while resting and hoping in our heavenly citizenship.