Coming after the tragedy in Connecticut on Friday, I must confess that it seemed a cruel irony to me that today is Gaudete (“Rejoice”) Sunday–the third Sunday in Advent. In the face of such inexplicable horror, I certainly didn’t feel like rejoicing. The words of the reading from Philippians were hard to hear:
Brothers and sisters: Rejoice in the Lord always. I shall say it again: rejoice! Your kindness should be known to all. The Lord is near. Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God. Then the peace of God that supasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
But as the words were read, I could only think to myself that these words simply reflect the truth: peace for those whose lives have been forever changed by the events of Friday will never be able to be explained–such peace will only come through the grace of God. And I pray that peace will fill their hearts in the days ahead.
When I got home and opened up the paper, I found evidence of such inexplicable peace. My new hero is Robbie Parker, whose little girl Emilie was killed on Friday. Unbelievably to me, he was interviewed last night and expressed sympathy for the gunman’s family, saying, “I can’t imagine how hard this experience must be for you.” I’m amazed by Mr. Parker’s ability to express such charity at such a horrific time, and his example is humbling. If a man whose precious little girl was just taken from him can be so loving, what possible excuse can I have not to rejoice on this Gaudete Sunday for the many manifold blessings of God?
And so I pray for those lost and for those left behind, especially taking comfort in Christ’s words:
Let the children come to me, and do not prevent them; for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.