This is not the blog I intended to write in anticipation of Memorial Day, the day we honor the fallen of our wars who gave “the last full measure of devotion,” the day that springs summer into full swing, the day of memory. I could not write a serene reflection laced with joy and patriotic fervor. I could not write it because I truly wondered if the freedoms our heroes secured for us are being abused under the grip of gun fanaticism and the weakness of our Government to enact reasonable gun control. I could not write about Memorial Day after learning what our inflated interpretation of the Second Amendment has done to innocent children, again.
Sandy Phillips lost her daughter to the shooter who took 12 lives in the Colorado movie theater ten years ago. Sandy reported that 400,000 persons have been shot to death since then. Multiply that number by family survivors who have been impacted by these deaths and you can have a million or more people tragically affected by mass shootings in this decade.
And, Sandy continues, only 11 United States Senators have continually voted against any gun law reform passed by the House in that time. Eleven people. That’s all. Eleven hard core gun defenders in addition to those who resist the dismissal of the filibuster rule. Still, the number of Republican Senators who appear to oppose the reforms voted by the House seems to be the majority in the Senate now. These leaders stand in direct opposition to a majority of the public. Those opposing gun law reform are handily supported by the National Rifle Association. Many of these leaders represent areas of the country where the NRA is highly supported. The dangerous alchemy of NRA campaign support for people in Congress along with individual citizens who blindly support the NRA itself is evil in its very design.
Let’s drill down on the swirl at work here. Recall the story in the Christian Scriptures of what is referred to as the ‘Slaughter of the Holy Innocents.’ (Mt 2:16-18) King Herod, a jealous, bilious ruler of the Jews learns from the Magi that a new King of the Jews has been born in Bethlehem. So, he asks the Magi to let him know where this new King lives. But after they find the Child, they honor a dream in which they are told not to return to Herod. The enraged Herod then orders the massacre of all boys under two years of age in Bethlehem. His power cannot be dissipated. His position as political ruler must not teeter under the possibility that a poor Jewish boy could replace him. Imagine the suffering of the parents because of one man’s maniacal hunger for power. Matthew refers to a Hebrew incantation on the suffering of Rachel who witnessed the exile of her people by the armies of Babylon. It is as if her children are being taken from her with no hope for a future. Matthew takes the incantation from Jeremiah 31:14.
“In Ramah a voice is heard crying and weeping loudly. Rachel mourns for her children and refuses to be comforted because they are dead.”
Who bears the guilt for the carnage in Uvalde? This guilt has roots that reach
gun manufacturers who make profits from sales that should not take place with young people. This guilt has roots among those of us who do not deluge our politicians by insisting on gun control reform or not joining activist groups for the cause. This guilt has stubborn tenacious roots most especially, in the halls of Congress and state governments where feckless politicians cater to the gun lobby so they can affirm their salivating thirst for power while blaming the ‘lack’ of mental health care as the greatest contributing factor to every mass shooting. Do they actually think that Americans believe their lies? The similarities between the actions of King Herod and those of our government officials abound. So I ask: Did the gunman act alone? I think not.
Rachel wept in fear that forced exile would terminate the future of her people. Shouldn’t we fear that we have lost a major part of our future without the children killed the last 20 years by mass shootings? Their families have lost a part of their future as well. It almost seems to me that while Herod gave the order to kill innocent children, he is no more guilty than the politicians who absolutely know their resistance to reasonable gun control will do the same.
For this coming week read the story of the slaughter of the innocents as told in Matthew’s Gospel. Try to imagine the horrors of the parents who lost their sons this way. Then put yourself in the presence of the parents in Uvalde, Texas.
What are the similarities of these stories? What kind of human, loving, Christian response can you make for the Uvalde families? What kind of activism can you be part of to stop the bleeding of our national conscience when it comes to gun control?
We cannot witness anymore Rachels crying for their children.
May God be with each of you and with the families of Uvalde, Texas.
Trust your heart to guide you in this prayerful moment.