My daughter posted these questions on an online chat thread one morning: "Would someone care to enlighten me on how we got to this place? This place being almost daily acts of terror or terrorism around the world. How did we, as a planet, fall to immediate violence as an answer to something as simple as being fired. I simply do not understand."
What response do I give to my daughter's plea, my daughter who is looking at the world into which she will bring a new baby? Where is the promise and hope that I held before my children when they were young? The promise of innocence and kindness, love and tenderness; the promise that enticed my children to leave the security of home and strike out on their own — to create a new family — with the same hope and promise? What is my response to the gentle request of simple understanding?
The behaviors of this world were foretold. Christ looked His disciples in the eyes and gave them the hope only He could offer: "I say to you who are my friends: Do not be afraid of those who will kill the body and can do no more. I will show you whom you ought to fear. Fear him who has power to cast into Gehenna after he has killed. Yes, I tell you, fear him." (Luke 12: 4-6)
When people reject the power and promise of God, when they fail to believe in what God desires for them and turn away from the Creator, they seek other things to fill the hole in their hearts that only God can fill. This is how we were created. God made us to seek Him at all times.
When the source of our very being is rejected, we turn to other things to worship. "Other" is made god; we worship power, possessions, money, sports, technology, the secular. We begin to believe that our own voice is more profound and beautiful than the Word of God. We believe the power of the chosen god is greater than the Almighty God. We rationalize that our power, our ideology, the "god" of choice, is the thing that deserves worship.
When that fails to satisfy, abhorrent action arises in rage, frustration, despair — the chaos of sin — and yields to the dark power of Satan; the one who has the power to cast into Gehenna. Looking at the atrocities and cruelties of the world — blameless children being targeted, martyrs of charity that defend the defenseless, ghastly, random acts of terror on innocent bystanders — we must confess to the evil that is raging across the world.
Yet, hope exists. This evil and despair doesn't come from the God who suffered and died for us. Jesus has conquered sin. Through the cross and resurrection, he has defeated Satan and all his works. While there are people who respond to the call of evil in the world, allowing it to access and overflow into everyone's life, Christ has given us the tools to claim victory over the power of evil.
With the Mass, the Eucharist, the sacraments, the saints — the whole of the Church — we have the power to prevail against the dark power that presumes to threaten us. The Truth that is Christ calls us to respond to the Evil in the world by turning to God in love and trust. Christ calls us to repent and, through the power of the Holy Spirit, turn toward the Father.
Although the response is simple, it isn't easy.
"As I have loved you, so you also should love one another. This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another." (John 13: 34-35)
Pressimone is pastoral associate at Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Clayton.