Sudden Death

This past week has not been a good one for us as a people.  Over twenty lives were taken suddenly and unprepared at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut – most of them small children – by a man on a murderous rampage.  We all want to ask “why”; we all wonder what anyone could have done to stop it; we all wonder where God was in those moments of terror and death.

  We are not the first to wrestle with such questions: Job comes to mind; Mary and the Apostles come to mind; Harold Kushner (When Bad Things Happen to Good People) and John Claypool (Tracks of a Fellow Struggler) and William Young (The Shack) come to mind; military chaplains serving with young combat troops come to mind.  The bigger question is what can and will we do to ease the pain, to embrace the grieving, to share the loss.

  As men and women of faith, we will never have answers in this life to the imponderable questions; but we will have loving arms to hold, kind words to speak, tears to shed and to mingle, and prayers to lift to God.  As Rabbi Kushner suggested in his book, when God breathed life into humans on the sixth day of creation, He had to make a choice – to be all-powerful or to be all-loving.  God chose the latter.  Had He chosen the former, we would all be animals of instinct and not the free agents, the partners in creation, that He wants us to be.  By choosing the latter, God bids us to respond to Him and to each other in love, even in the face of unmitigated evil.

  Let us double our efforts to show God’s love to the people we serve and to teach our children to reach out in love to the world God created.


  1. I am appreciative of the new life breathed into MCA recently, I believe as a consequence of the arrival of Ch Certain. I have been moved by several of the pieces he has written since arriving, first and not least of all by his personal testimony of life as an Air Force officer, POW and Episcopal priest. I am on the site to see about attending the National Institute.
    One comment reading this post – now some time from the raw emotion and shock of the event described. To choose between the attributes of God – omnipotence and all loving – discarding one and keeping the other is to disdain the work of two thousand years (give or take) of Christian theology. The God of Christianity is both all loving and all-powerful as these categories / descriptions have been provided with and through the faith of our Fathers. Consider the great pain of the martyrs over the centuries (even today around the world) and the great holiness and intellect of men such as Augustine and Aquinas. They did not feel the necessity to choose between power and love. The God who is the Blessed Holy and undivided Trinity – instantiated in Jesus Christ – is both all-powerful and all loving. And yes, I think, life is a mystery. I am persuaded that those who live lives of faith will understand more some day.