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We are called to have nothing to do with murder

Patricia McCarthy, CND

Consider the school shooter and the weekend gardener. They appear to have nothing in common. One is responsible for murder which is an act of unmitigated evil, no matter the circumstance, including war. The other is responsible for caring for one little spot in the earth in such a way as to produce food. Both can say something about God. The first shows what God is not and how God does not act; the second reveals the way God does act.

Shooting randomly into a school or any other public place shows utter disregard and contempt for human life. We leave to God judgement of the shooter, but certainly the mass shooter causes evil on all who are killed and their families and friends and on all others who now live in fear wherever they go. The mass murderer exercises uncontrolled power over human life in a savage way. God, who truly is the only One with power of that magnitude, never exercises it in that way. God never kills or harms any person or creature. God never forces divine authority over people, even to prevent them from doing horrible things. God gave us free will and, no matter how we abuse it, God never takes it back. Hatred, revenge, despair are the signs of evil. Love alone is the sign of the goodness of God.

The weekend gardener reflects more accurately the way in which God works. With great care in planting and nurturing the small seed, the gardener tills the soils and protects the seedlings until the frost is past and it is safe to plant them outside. Every gardener looks at the small plants and knows that their growth is not in his or her hands. A garden can be watered but it needs long sunny days, warm nights and protection from fierce storms to grow. Some years the plants yield a hundred fold; and other years, they don’t make it through fickle June weather.

The careful gardener watches for the slightest signs of growth: taller plants, flowers on the plants, the hint of a fruit about to pop out. The gardener watches the tiny green buds of tomatoes or cucumbers grow and form the shapes familiar to us. Then the colors begin to change. Green becomes orange and finally red for the tomatoes or dark green for the cucumber orange for the pumpkin. Finally the first fruits are ready to pick. That first tomato is precious. Firm and ripe the gardener holds it with gratitude and care.

So God watches us. We are planted in this earth in our mother’s womb; and all throughout our life, God watches our growth, even assisting in unseen ways to protect us. We are the first fruits of God’s tender care and efforts. God rejoices in us. God delights in us.

We are called to treat others in the same respectful way. We are called to participate in growth in all its forms. We are called to have nothing to do with murder. Imagine if every Christian refused to own a gun, sell a gun or ammunition for it. It sounds absolutely ridiculous and impossible; yet it sounds like the gospel message, “Love your enemies and do good to those who hate you.”

Article first published by the Rhode Island Catholic


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