Most Reverend Jerome E. Listecki
Archbishop of Milwaukee
Moments after midnight on Friday in Aurora, Colo., a lone gunman entered a packed movie theater during a screening of “The Dark Knight Rises.” This theater, filled with people excited to see the new Batman movie, became the scene of a senseless act of violence that took the lives of 12 people. Many of those killed were young, including a six-year-old girl, and for those injured, the count has risen to some 58 others. This brutal act dominates the news, and reactions of shock are emerging from all avenues of our society.
Listening to many of the news commentators, it was interesting to hear some confess the need to hug their children as soon as possible, and did just that when they went home. In addition, others admitted that they called their loved ones as soon as they heard the news about the shooting, just to check in and hear their voices, suddenly aware of how fragile life can be.
There will be endless questions as to why such a brutal act like that happened, and I can assure you that none of the responses will offer satisfactory answers. Evil does exist in this world, and at times, it manifests itself in a reckless disregard for human life.
There has never been a shortage of sin in our world, as human cruelty has accompanied man since the time of Cain and Abel. Often we often ignore the inhumanity that plagues other parts of the world, until it cannot be avoided any longer. It is only then that we see ourselves vulnerable.
It is also in this moment that we come to understand that life is precious, and we reach out to those who give meaning to our lives. In these moments of absurd inhumanity – when we are experiencing the worst in human beings – we also experience the best.
Remarkably, as the story unfolded on screen with the anticipation of mesmerizing fictional superhero special effects, we heard eyewitness accounts of simultaneous, real-life acts of heroism in the theater that night. As the barrage of bullets flew, individuals used their bodies as human shields to protect their loved ones. Regardless of the cost of this great sacrifice, these real heroes took action due to a sense of responsibility and unselfish love.
After the shooting, our political and community leaders called for prayer. I find it interesting that they turned to God for solace and strength during this time of grief. Our churches, political meetings and community assemblies all remembered the shootings in Colorado by placing themselves in solidarity with the victims.
While there is so much that divides us, it’s obvious to me that God alone, the author of life, unites us when the world is presented to us in utter absurdity.
As people of faith, we must add our personal prayers for the victims of Aurora, Colo. Our most important relationship with God is present when we spend time in prayer. It really does make a difference in helping us to understand what truly is important in this world, and calls us to fashion our lives accordingly.
Our faith in God gives us the courage to persevere through the most trying times and to understand that even in darkness, his light and love are present in our willingness to LOVE ONE ANOTHER.
Note: This blog originally appeared as the July 24, 2012 "Love One Another" email sent to Catholics throughout the Archdiocese of Milwaukee by Archbishop Jerome E. Listecki. If you are interested in signing up for these email messages, please click here.