In the wake of a new tragedy that is shaking America, Las Vegas shooting is just the tip of the iceberg that shows the hidden face of American culture that emphasizes privacy over transparency and the needs of the individual over the needs of the community. We live in a selfish society that have certain characteristics and traits that reflect lack of trust and values. Media outlets and even the government make us belief that abortion and euthanasia are “good solutions” to get rid of those that “we do not need”. Pope Francis refers to this kind of mentality a trow away culture. Guns and weapons seem to be our protection leaving God just a tiny a dusty room in our own lives. I came to the conclusion that we trust mostly in our own means (strength, power, guns and the rule of law) instead of believing what we proclaim in our American motto written in the Great Seal of our nation: “In God we trust”.
Once again, questions emerge and we do not have answers. It is very difficult for us to cope with suffering and pain, that is the reason why we cannot have a clear answer for questions like: How a tragedy like this can be possible? Why God allowed this tragedy? and What is the meaning of suffering?
As our relationship with God dwindles, we have an open ground for constant attacks in our spiritual warfare. We are overwhelmed by our own questions and existential dilemmas. We have many things to worry about, but we do not worry about our own relationship with the one who gave his life for us, the one who suffered for us and the one who died on the cross for us: Jesus Christ. We just neglect this relationship until we need help. Some people just decide to close the door completely to this relationship with God.
Perhaps we do not have answers but questions when suffering and distress come to our lives; this is the time when we try to make sense of suffering through our logic and our means. As we try to flee from suffering, let us remember the words of the Prophet Isaiah when he says “For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
nor are your ways my ways” (Is. 55,8). We can “walk around suffering”, but the reality is that suffering is part of humanity; suffering make us human as we also feel empathy with those who suffer as well. When we experience suffering, we know that we can love; when we love, we are open implicitly to suffer.
In this regard, I see the crucified Christ and I make sense of my own suffering. I had to go trough several trials in my life; times of suffering and distress. Assessing my own situation, I can see how suffering shaped my life for the good. I offered to Christ every single suffering right after I entered the seminary. I struggled with loneliness, diseases, unhealthy relationships and lack of affection. I took the pain as a way of redemption. I was inspired in my personal prayer by the Lord to take on my own suffering as a healing remedy for my sins. Sounds non-sense but it is the way God works. We can find in the life of saints like Padre Pio and Therese of Lisieux how suffering is transformed into grace. I take the words of Timothy by heart: “Take your share of suffering as a good soldier of Jesus Christ” (2 Tim. 2,3).
As we continue watching TV and the news, we can notice how commercials aim to a pain-free and idealistic society. The consumption of drugs rises and make us numb, avoiding by all means suffering; that could make us completely insensitive and incapable to express and receive love. Drugs and addictions make us numb physically and spiritually.
Individuals are facing dangers in our society; lack of empathy due to distractions and new gadgets that makes us think that we do not need socialization or human interaction. New technologies are substituting human interaction. We can see how kids get hooked by video games, tablets and cell phones, just to name a few distractions.
As we continue walking, nobody wants to talk about the recent tragedy. Most of the people seem to be in state of shock trying to forget what just happened.
As we continue mourning and suffering for all those who died in Las Vegas shooting, we are expressing that we are sharing in the suffering of a nation that has another episode of domestic terrorism. This symptoms reflect a sick society. Our involvement in our parish and community is key to transform and help in the healing process. Suffering is an important element in our lives and we see in Christ the best example of the one who was able to express the ultimate meaning of love through suffering.