Silence at 9.30 am today. On Friday morning, December 21st, at 9.30 this nation is observing a moment of silence to remember all those who were killed in sandy hook shooting. The church bells will toll, flags will fly half mast. It is presumed that many websites will go offline for a minute and everyone both in the offices, home, hospitals in about 29 states will observe a moment of silence. According to White House, the President will also be observing a moment of silence even as he debates on how to bring tougher gun laws to tackle the rising crime. As the people are slowly recovering from the shock, the National Rifle Association [ NRA] has kept a deathly silence all these days. They finally issued a statement through their Facebook account that they are also extremely anguished at the shooting in Newtown. The NRA has scheduled a news conference today to offer meaningful contributions with regards to curtailing gun crime. As the nation seeks answers and schools and families trying to think what are the way to curb violence in the society and in the mind of kids, a Catholic Church in New York has embarked on a very novel project as their part to curb violence in society. All Saints Church in Syracuse has decided to play its part to make meaningful contribution so as to make the community a more safe place. The church has decided to raise funds for the victims of the Sandy Hook shooting but the way they are going to raise funds is the most unique part of this project. Their modus operandi of raising funds is by asking parents and children to return the violent video games and toys that they have at home. According the parish priest Father Fred Daley, this nation lives with a sense of glorified violence with programmes and films all showing violence and parents buying toys where the nature of gaming is of violent nature. Hence Father Daley states that the objective of this project is that if parents are able to return violent toys and ultimately stopped buying these type of toys, the toy companies would ultimately stop selling them. This is one small way that each of us can do something to move in a positive direction not only to curb violence but also to end the factors that promote violence. What the parish is going to do is a two way work. First they are going to collect the recently purchased toys and then with the receipts return to the stores and the money collected will be given to the victims of Newtown. Secondly there will be a general donation of old toys with the idea of getting rid of them. I believe this move by the All Saints Church is a small move to make certain corrections so as to bring peace and hope in our community. Unfortunately the majority of us are not concerned nor would want to do something so that we could play our part to make our world a safe place, where there is peace and harmony. We just casually talk, without taking any creative efforts to bring about drastic changes neither in our life nor the way we function collectively. I think this advent season, the birth of Jesus Christ should force people to consciously reorient lives and take decision that will bring about peace and harmony in this nation. How can we go about doing this?
We are meditating on the theme “Transformed Living” and the portion that we shall use for our meditation is from Mathew 2: 1-12. This portion shows a conflict of two elements or forces. One the forces of evil and the other the forces that is trying their best to conquer evil. When angels announce to the shepherds “Do not be afraid, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all people”[ Luke 2: 10], what the angels announce to the shepherds is that with the birth of Jesus Christ is a message of joy and good news to all the people because He is going to save his people from sins [ Mathew 1: 21]. But then this message is not good news to the power centre of those day– King Herod. For him good news is all about dominating others, ruling over others and if they don't submit to his power, exterminate him. The game and rule of violence. The wise men comes to behold the good news but once they behold the good news, God reveals to them that they are not supposed to be channels of hatred, power mongering but on the contrary travel on a new path, individually and in community. The wise men individually and collectively deviates from the path that they had previously travelled to a new path that God wanted them to travel. I think it is this conscious deviation and creating new travelling paths that is needed for all of us today. Observing a moment of silence in remembrance of the victims of Sandy Hook is a big effort not only to unite people and making them aware of how to make our nation, a nation of peace and harmony. But this effort should not end with this noble gesture. After a few weeks things are going to be back to normal and our lives will be back to the usual frame, as if nothing happened. It is this status quo that needs to be changed. Just as the parishioners of All Saints Church are taking steps to bring peace and harmony, creating alternative steps of travelling in life for its people, we also both individually and collectively need for formulate steps and paths that will help all of us to live in peace and harmony. Let us pray that God will grant us also the wisdom and the vision that He gave to the wise men to create new paths for us to walk in the journey of life, paths of peace and hope.
Rev. Dr. Joe Joseph Kuruvilla