My Heart is Saddened

My heart is saddened since yesterday afternoon, when I learned - once again - of a gun massacre in the United States. This time, the death toll is 19 children in an elementary school, 2 teachers and the perpetrator of this massacre. We are talking about children, for God's sake, who were probably already thinking about the school vacations scheduled in two days!

And this violence sometimes takes the form of murdered women, threatened and tortured community leaders, victims of wars and conflicts… Feminicides, street gangs, senseless violence have become the daily life that we readily find on our news feed.
It saddens my heart to learn week after week that people – even believers – are asking for euthanasia to end their suffering. The law on “medical assistance in dying” was going to be well supervised, the promoters of the law said… Today, I think we all know people who have had access to death without having all the criteria provided for by the law. Even worse, the Quebec government wants to introduce a new bill that would open up the criteria for access to death on demand even further.

It saddens my heart to know that abortion costs the lives of more than 75,000 children annually in Canada, available without any legal restrictions throughout the pregnancy. I am heartbroken when I hear “pro-life” groups and individuals celebrating their upcoming Supreme Court victory in the United States leaving the right to legislate access to abortion to the individual states, but forgetting that “fetuses” grow up and need to be nurtured and accompanied in order to achieve true happiness. States will legislate to limit or ban abortion… but will these same states also grant budgets for the accompaniment of young women struggling with an unwanted pregnancy, with violence…

My heart is saddened when I was told a few minutes ago that a friend, consumed by sadness and discouragement, has just killed himself by suicide. I think of his mother, of his loved ones, of the people who, like me, are thinking: “What if I had reached out to him?”

All around us, creation is calling us to see new life arise. The lilacs are in full bloom, the trees are dressed in their finest new leaves, the lakes sparkle in the sunlight… All of creation seems to be celebrating life! In the midst of the great social debates that sometimes weigh heavily on us, sometimes it is enough to return to the beauty of the creation that surrounds us to welcome once again the original word: “And God saw everything that he had made; and behold, it was very good” (Genesis 1:31).

I do not believe that this is seeking cheap consolation! On the contrary! It is an act of courage and faith to believe that the God of life has a great project of love and happiness for each of his children. He has placed in our hands the great responsibility of advancing step by step through our daily lives to build this new heaven and this new earth.

It is up to each one of us, men and women of good will – which goes beyond any religious belief – to do our part to see God’s plan come to life. This begins by welcoming the reality that surrounds us. Seeing the world with its beauties and its ugliness, simply recognizing that in every person and every event there is always an element of the divine presence and that this is “very good”.

Then we are called to listen to the cries that pierce the selfish silence. Sometimes it will be a great call for help, sometimes a simple whisper that could be lost if we do not listen with our heart. But these cries touch the heart of God; as with Moses, it is he himself who comes down to free his people. But he does it with us, with our cooperation.

Concrete involvement – through human and Christian action – is the answer to the needs of the world. There is no point in wallowing in our sorrows. Sometimes, a gesture, however small, can bring hope to our hearts and to those of our loved ones. A small gesture can lead to a chain of actions that could bring life!

Pope Francis has some impressive words to end his encyclical Laudato Sì: “At the end, we will find ourselves face to face with the infinite beauty of God and we be able to read with admiration and happiness the mystery of the universe, which with us will share in unending plenitude. Even now, we are journeying towards the Sabbath of eternity, the new Jerusalem, towards our common home in heaven. Jesus says: “I make all things new” (Rev 21:5). Eternal life will be a shared experience of awe, in which each creature, resplendently transfigured, will take its rightful place and have something to give those poor men and women who will have been liberated once and for all” (Laudato Sì, 243).

Perhaps then we will be able to pass from a sad heart to a free and happy one… This is my dream for today!

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