LISTEN! DON'T UNDERSTAND!
by Father Bob Papi
used with permission
When a grade seven student in a small school thousands of kilometers from Littleton Colorado a week after the shootings there remains convinced it could happen here then you begin to grasp the power of modern media.
Throughout this century we have sown the wind of denial of God, denial of the truth about the human person, justified wars and incomprehensibly turned the slaughter of the unborn in the womb into an obsessive addiction to non-responsibility. That we continue to be shocked when we reap the whirlwind of blood and death in the allegedly unexpected places of presumed safety yet blithely continue to slaughter the unborn, well I suggest we have become a people seen by Isaiah the prophet:
" Go and say to this people:
'Listen carefully, but you shall not understand!
Look intently, but you shall know nothing!
You are to make the heart of this people sluggish, to dull their ears and close their eyes;
Else their eyes will see, their ears hear, their heart understand and they will turn and be healed.'
'How long, O Lord?' I asked. And He replied:
'Until the cities are desolate, without inhabitants, houses without a man, and the earth is a desolate waste.'" (Is.6:9-11)
We are into the second generation of slaughtering the unborn in the womb, a blood lust that hardly shows signs of abating and yet we seem blind and deaf not only to the actual evil of this enterprise but to the long term effects upon those who survive life in the womb.
Columbine High School is a powerful womb symbol and if we beg the Holy Spirit to open our eyes and ears we will see in all its starkness just what Pope John Paul means when he speaks of the 'culture of death' and perhaps finally Bishops and Priest will preach the Gospel of Life and teach the encyclical and support those laity who defend life...support the laity boldly, tenaciously, truthfully.
If we blindly and deafly think for a moment that the solution to such a horror as occurred in that high school is simplistic as tighter gun control, armed guards in schools or standard school uniforms or more 'professionals' to 'help' parents parent we will tragically live to see a repetition most likely on a more gruesome scale.
" At that time some people who were present there told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with the blood of their sacrifices. He said to them in reply, 'Do you think that because these Galileans suffered in this way they were greater sinners than all other Galileans? By no means! But I tell you, if you do not repent, you will all perish as they did! Or those eighteen people who were killed when the tower at Siloam fell on them --do you think they were more guilty than everyone else who lived in Jerusalem? By no means! But I tell you, if you do not repent, you will all perish as they did!"' (Lk.13:1-5)
I know of no studies done to observe the psychological and spiritual impact upon an entire generation which knows that millions of its brothers and sisters have been slaughtered while still living in the wombs of their mothers, but surely any rationale human being can make that connection. A culture which systematically day in and day out slaughters its most vulnerable in the womb cannot be trusted to safeguard its children who have survived the womb. This in turn must lead to a degree of personal insecurity and distrust which in turn connects to the extreme increase of normal adolescent anger becoming uncontrolled rage.
This is the same culture which is apparently unable to protect its children because it places the lie of individual rights ( which by and large means the rights of adults) above the well being of its children. Hence it is adults, not children, who clamor for the right to produce and sell: weapons of violence and mass destruction, pornography; violent films, television, music, video games, to allegedly with mercy kill the elderly and sick, fundamentally to have the right to choose to be blind and deaf to the implications of abuse of free will.
It is the relativistic mentality with its determination to place so-called 'rights' above clear responsibility which has created and sustains a culture of death, a culture which given the stark silence around such papal powerhouse teachings as the encyclicals: GOSPEL OF LIFE and SPLENDOUR OF TRUTH, can only be regarded in the light of the words of the prophet Isaiah and a culture which appears clearly unable, or unwilling, to heed the warnings of Christ and repent!
The fear of students living far away from Colorado, the worry of adults about the safety of their children, the refusal to heed Christ, to answer the call of Pope John Paul that we build a civilization of love, the unwillingness for most Christians to defend life, the high pitched media enhanced emotions around this issue all testify that as a people we have lost our way and no amount of governmental, scientific, medical, sociological, psychological intervention can turn a culture of death into a civilization of love.
Only true conversion, change of heart, repentance and obedience to the Will of the Father, in a word only co-operation with the grace of redemption can bring about the needed change from death to life, hate to love, lie to truth, evil to good.
"THE GOSPEL OF LIFE is for the whole of human society. To be actively pro-life is to contribute to the RENEWAL OF SOCETY through the promotion of the common good. It is impossible to further the common good without acknowledging and defending the right to life, upon which all other inalienable rights of individuals are founded and from which they develop. A society lacks solid foundations when, on the one hand, it asserts values such as the dignity of the person, justice and peace, but then, on the other hand, radically acts to the contrary by allowing or tolerating a variety of ways in which human life is devalued and violated, especially where it is weak or marginalized. Only respect for life can be the foundation and guarantee of the most precious and essential goods of society such as democracy and peace." ( Pope John Paul II, The Gospel of Life)
This is the season of His Holy Resurrection, of our redemption, the season of Divine Mercy and hope. These are days of deep mourning, tragedy, war in Europe, unrest around the globe and the incomprehensible - unless we repent and beg a cure of our blindness and deafness - violence in a high school in Colorado.
There is only one way to go, to cope, just as there is only one reality, and surely we have become as a culture, a people, exhausted enough with our lies and arrogance, with death and sadness, to turn to Him and live! "I Am The Way, The Truth And The Life" Jesus assures us the night before He sacrificed Himself for us (Jn.14:6) and after His Holy Resurrection He tells us to go forth and preach Him and all He has commanded us, that is, the Gospel of Life and promises: "I am with you always, until the end of time." (Mt.28: 18-20).
As we prepare to cross the 'threshold of hope' and enter the new millennium, the Great Jubilee, can we not confess the failure of our arrogant self-actualization in this century of blood and repent and cry out for mercy, choose life in Him, with Him, through Him and for Him...........
And as Jesus passed, blind men followed him crying out, "Son of David, have pity on us." Jesus said to them, "Do you believe that I can do this?" "Yes, Lord." Then he touched their eyes and said, "Let it be done for you according to your faith" (cf Mt.9:27ff.)
Fr. Bob Papi April 28, 1999 (c)