The Orlando shooting has the ignominy of being the largest mass shooting in the United States. Sadly, this is a field with steep competition. More horrifically, mass shootings account for only a tiny portion of annual gun deaths in the U.S. The Guardian provides a thorough analysis here.
Conversations surrounding the shooting are riddled with toxicity. Whether it is politicians and gun rights advocates once again claiming that if everyone was armed no one would be hurt or the religious extremists who name violence against the LGBTQ+ community as God’s “will,” there is little left to help the average person understand or act.
It is overwhelming to be drenched in the horror of the mass execution Omar Mateen enacted; to watch the same actors take the same positions on the same stage and, once again, nothing happens.
Yet in the last week, two congressman changed that trajectory on the Senate and House floor: Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut, who led a 15-hour filibuster, and Representative John Lewis, who staged a sit-in after gun control measures failed to pass. A brief video of Rep. Lewis (below) as well another of Sen. Murphy by Rolling Stone offer different view points of what might be possible if people decide to no longer accept that change is impossible.
It is a testament of hope and a clear moral call to not give up on creating change. In these times when the deaths of literally thousands of people have failed to move the political dial it is easy to feel powerless and hopeless; as if our voices and our actions do not matter.
And yet every grieving family member has no choice—they cannot turn away because for them there is no where left to turn. It is vital that we find a way forward, and the courage of both Rep. Lewis and Sen. Murphy can be contagious if we let it.
In closing a prayer from Bishop John Noonan of the Diocese of Orlando:
All life is sacred as each one of us is made in the image and likeness of God. We cherish each person as a child of God.
We pray for victims of violence and acts of terror … for their families and friends … and all those affected by such acts against God’s love.
We pray for the people of the city of Orlando that God’s mercy and love will be upon us as we seek healing and consolation.
Every time we look at the Cross, we see how God has forgiven us in Christ—with a love that bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things; love never fails.
We dry the tears of those who weep and mourn as gently as Veronica wiped the Lord’s bleeding face on the Via Dolorosa.
May the Peace of Christ dwell within our heart.