Just last Wednesday, Pope Francis in his General Audience put it this way:
“A real Christian,” he said, “is …convinced by the power of the Resurrection that no evil is infinite, no night is without end, no person is permanently in error, no hatred is stronger than love.”
Even after violence in the vineyard. Hope persists. So does faith.
St. Paul’s letter to the Philippians this morning reminds of something we easily forget, the power of prayer:
Have no anxiety at all, but in everything,
by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving,
make your requests known to God.
Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding
will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
How much we need that peace of God! How much we need to know that this pain will pass.
Ten years ago, the world was trying to make sense of the massacre at Virginia Tech. It happened just before Easter in 2007, when a gunman opened fire, killing 32 people and wounding 17 others. At the time, it was the deadliest mass shooting carried out by a single gunman in modern U.S. history.
The writer Philip Yancey preached a sermon at the school shortly after the killings. He told the students and families: “Trust a God who can redeem what now seems unredeemable.”
And he explained:
“Ten days before the shootings on this campus,” he said, “Christians around the world remembered the darkest day of human history, the day in which evil human beings violently rose up against God’s Son…We remember that day not as Dark Friday, Tragic Friday, or Disaster Friday—but rather as Good Friday. That awful day led to the salvation of the world and to Easter, an echo in advance of God’s bright promise to make all things new.”
This Sunday, we are reminded that the vineyard can be a place of violence.
But we cannot forget: the vineyard is also a place of growth, and potential, and renewal.
For it is the vine that gives us precious grapes, which in time can become the Precious Blood—the real presence of our savior here and now.
As we prepare to receive Christ in the Eucharist, we pray as Paul taught, with trust in a merciful God, without anxiety, seeking consolation for those who mourn, peace for those who suffer, reassurance for those who doubt.
The horror that happened in a place called “The Meadows” cannot deprive us of these certainties: Love endures. Every life matters.
And hope persists.
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