Sisters and brothers in Christ,
Across the church and the world on this Ash Wednesday, our hearts ache for the people of Parkland, Florida: for the students, teachers, and staff of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School; for the many who were wounded; and for families and friends of the seventeen who were killed. We pray for the souls of the deceased, in the knowledge that nothing can separate them from the love of God in Christ Jesus, and in steadfast confidence that they are cradled in God’s gentle and firm embrace. And we pray for the soul of the perpetrator of this senseless and terrifying murder.
There are no words that can assuage the pain and horror we feel. But there are actions we can take in response. We can look deep into the mirror of our Lenten self-examination and recognize the societal violence in which we are each complicit as Americans. We can fight the reflex to avert our eyes from so painful a crime and focus our hearts on building a community that more fully incarnates the reign of God. If we believe there is no gun violence in heaven, then surely we must work to eradicate it on earth.
Such a response is not politicizing a tragedy. It is simply joining the Savior of the world on his journey to Jerusalem, joining his sacrifice by sacrificing whatever we must for the sake and safety of God’s beloved.
May the souls of the departed rest in peace and rise in glory, and may we strive without ceasing to replicate in this earthly life the peace they know today in the life eternal.
The Rt. Rev. Mark Hollingsworth, Jr.
Bishop of Ohio