23 Sunday in Ordinary Time
MT 18:15-20
September 6, 2020

It was upsetting to hear that there was a shooting in Kenosha, Wisconsin last week. Two deaths and a serious injury were the consequence of yet another night of social unrest that has added to what has become a tragic and frightening start to a new decade. As 2020 unfolds, there is increasing evidence that many things in our country and in our world are simply not working.

When the alleged shooter was identified as a 17-year-old male, I immediately imagined what kind of a person he was…what he looked like…how he presented himself. The image was dark…angry…terrifying…evil. And then the first pictures of the accused shooter were made public and I literally got sick to my stomach.

This 17-year-old male is A KID. The only thing that distinguished him from ANY KID in a parish youth group was the assault rifle hanging over his shoulder. The sense of tragedy that overwhelmed me became even more intense when I saw footage of THIS KID, standing shoulder to shoulder with other kids; actually, they might well have been part of a church youth group. They were cleaning graffiti that had been sprayed on the walls of a high school just a short distance from the place and only a few hours before THIS KID left his youth on the street next to the bleeding bodies of three other young men.

Now, rather than preparing for a new school year, THIS KID is preparing his defense to criminal charges including first-degree homicide. One of the attorneys who is part of the defense team that has already begun to assemble is quoted as saying that THIS KID “… is an innocent boy who justifiably exercised his fundamental right of self-defense. In doing so, he likely saved his own life and possibly the lives of others.”

Without knowing any of the details surrounding this tragedy, many people have already made up their minds that THIS KID is a hero.

Then there is the other side of the tragic story. The two that lost their lives as well as the seriously injured young man are regarded by many others as martyrs. “The other side” see them as victims of white supremacy and vigilante justice.

I would suggest that all of these young people, together with their families, friends and communities…for that matter, our entire country, has been victimized. We are the victims of false prophets, spreading messages of hatred and fear.

A true prophet, whose words are inspired by Almighty God, broadcasts a warning against dark thoughts and angry feelings that inspire A KID…or any human being for that matter…to fire a lethal weapon at another human being. A true prophet warns against violence and destruction of whatever nature. A true prophet calls for peace, justice, and harmony, not division and mistrust. True prophets inspire peace. And while God’s message delivered by true prophets is not always well received, the messenger often losing their life in order to deliver the message, until humankind hears and accepts the warning, there will be no lasting peace.

Jesus said to His disciples:

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid. (John 14:27)

Troubled hearts are fertile soil for false prophets to sow seeds of mistrust and hatred. Fear is the climate in which division thrives.

As 2020 unfolds, there is increasing evidence that many things in our country are simply not working. That is because we are experiencing a pandemic of troubled hearts, and the first symptom of this lethal spiritual sickness is fear.

We Christians hold the cure…today’s Readings.

Love your neighbor as yourself. Resolve disputes peacefully and prayerfully; it’s that simple. And yet, it seems so hard for humankind to accept, to the point that the prophets who bring us this simple message are persecuted and killed…EVEN JESUS!

Summer 2020 is almost behind us. We are about to begin a new season. This can be a season of healing if we do all in our power to make St. Paul’s warning…the law of the land.

Love does no evil to the neighbor!

In thought…word…or deed…

Love does no evil to the neighbor!

Let’s let our KIDS be KIDS…IGNORE FALSE PROPHETS AND ACCEPT CHRIST’S PEACE! Help to make this new season a season of love.