Seeing the dignity and value in the lives of others makes taking their lives unimaginable
One week ago, students returned to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, for the first time following the shooting massacre carried out by Nikolas Cruz on Ash Wednesday.
We must continue to pray for the 17 victims whose lives were taken, for the survivors, including the many physically and mentally wounded, for the families of the victims who have encountered incalculable pain, and for the conversion of Nikolas Cruz’s heart. We likewise must continue to pray for those who are captivated by violence, that they may be led to seek another way, the Christian way.
How many saints throughout history have battled mental anguish, often fueled by bullying and other acts of injustice, and who were subjected to conditions beyond their control, only to seek solace in Saint Paul’s famous reminder to the people of Corinth: “No trial has come to you but what is human. God is faithful, and will not let you be tried beyond your strength; but with the trial he will also provide a way out, so that you may be able to bear it” (1 Corinthians 10:13)!
Much has been said about gun control in this debate. And, yet, the matter is more profound still. Any governmental initiative, whether at the legislative level or otherwise, should be accompanied by an investigation into the deeper heart of the matter. Why the continued desire on the part of some to commit mayhem-laden atrocities against their fellow human beings?
On March 25, 1995 (the Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord), Saint John Paul II wrote his now-classic watershed encyclical, Evangelium Vitae: On the Value and Inviolability of Human Life. John Paul II coined the phrase “Culture of Death,” and actually used it 12 times throughout the document, along with the phrase “Culture of Life,” which he used 18 times.
Since John Paul II’s pontificate, both Benedict XVI and Francis – even early in their respective pontificates – have used these phrases, in order to call us from a “Culture of Death” to a “Culture of Life.”
Is there any one panacea when it comes to confronting that which is opposed to the value of human life, whether in the form of abortion, euthanasia or otherwise? Far from it. Yet, prayer coupled with action in the interest of enduring peace and charity is necessary in order to rekindle a broader respect for all human life across the spectrum, since seeing the dignity and value in the lives of others, from the unborn to the currently unrepentant inmate to the elderly infirm, makes taking their life unimaginable.
Lest we require a reminder: “I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly” (John 10:10).