Sunday, May 29, 2022

"What are we doing?" Homily for Seventh Sunday of Easter- Year Rev. Richard S. Vosko

Upper Room Inclusive Catholic Community in Albany, New York Demonstration for Law to Ban Assault Weapons

Firearms now kill more American children than car crashes, with this country’s gun sales on an unrelenting rise. The National Catholic Peace Movement Pax Christi reports: “Almost half of all the civilian guns in the world are in the hands of people in the United States, who make up only four percent of the world’s population.” 

The murder of 19 children and two teachers in Uvalde, TX has once again raised up a call for more restrictive gun laws. A Gallup poll found that 52% of Americans said laws regarding the sale of firearms should be made more strict, although the numbers differed across party affiliation. 

Last week, Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr angrily criticized the U.S. Senate: “There’s 50 senators, right now, who refuse to vote on H.R. 8, which is a background check rule that the House passed.” He continued: “I ask you, are you going to put your own desire for power ahead of the lives of our children, and our elderly and our churchgoers?”

Scarlett Lewis, mother of Jesse, who was killed in the 2012 Sandy Hook School shootings, has lost hope in politicians and believes Congress will not make gun laws more restrictive. The founder of the “Choose Love Movement” said we “have to do something ourselves.” Lewis now travels world-wide urging everyone to become part of the solution to the issues the world is facing. 

In today’s gospel (John 17:20-26) we read Jesus’ final words to his followers before his arrest. Wherever he went, whatever he said, the Nazarene revealed God’s love for people and all of creation. Jesus had hoped to unite everyone around the theme of love, peace and justice. 

Jesus’ message appears to be forgotten even by many who profess to be Christians. Disciples of Christ minister and veteran Army chaplain Richard Niell Donovan wrote: “A divided church loses its persuasive force.”

Unity stems from being in a relationship with God and Jesus who are united in the Spirit. It is a spirit that then drives faith communities to work for peace. In writing about God in the midst of pain, theologian Ilia Delio wrote: “When we are united to God, we become new again.” She added that “God will not clean up the mess we have made, but we are constantly invited into a new future.” 1 [1]

Civic and religious figures have important roles in encouraging people to continue to work for justice and peace. However, as civic citizens and members of diverse faith traditions we cannot stand by waiting for them to actually do something. 

The Spirit that hovers among and within us is divine love. We are urged to infuse that exuberance into every aspect of our beings. By the way we choose to live — work, study, pray and play — we can create cultures built on love and compassion rather than hate. 

The Book of Revelation (22: 12-14, 16-17, 20) paints a picture of a cosmic realm stimulated and sustained by an eternal God-head — Creator Redeemer, Sanctifier. We are interdependent with this enterprise. Divinity and humanity are united. Caring for all of the fruits of our planet, human and otherwise, is our duty in this relationship.

Finding ways to plug into this measureless, infinite, ever developing, colossal, spiritual energy is a healthy, holistic way to go through life. It recharges us to unite with one another to do something good for humanity and the eco-system of which we are a part.

On the night of the Uvalde shootings, an infuriated Chris Murphy, D-Conn, pleaded with Congress to pass legislation to address gun violence. He repeatedly challenged his colleagues: “What are we doing … why are you here … if not to solve a problem as existential as this one?” 

His provocation to end gun violence, to establish common sense gun laws, is a question addressed to each one of us: What are we doing?


1 Delio, Ilia. The Hours of the Universe: Reflections on God, Science, and the Human Journey.” (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2021) 38

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