A response to the Las Vegas massacre

“THERE is evil in the world.” I heard many people express these words after the Las Vegas massacre last week. It’s one of the statements that help people

grapple with violence and senseless death of dozens of people, who were just “out there” enjoying life with country music among family and friends.” How else can we explain it? Mental illness? Family background? Loose gun control? Envy and hatred? Whatever are our reasons regarding this tragic event, many of us agree that evil is the root of the problem here.

“Human evil is not rational. We cannot always explain it. There isn’t always a clear why behind it,” Propreacher’s article, “How To Respond  After Another Mass Shooting in America,” states these words in regards to this massacre. “Evil is a mystery and abomination.. It was not part of God’s original design for creation,” the author adds.

Scripture is replete with references to the presence of evil in the world. For us Christians, it’s the fundamental reason why Jesus Christ, the Son of God, came into this world. He came to conquer evil to bring life, goodness, justice, and hope.

Evil is personified in some people around us. It enters into their hearts and mind, thereby possessing their beings and causing harm to others. This Sunday’s Gospel, The Parable of the Wicked Tenants (Mt 21:33-43), speaks about this matter.

A landowner planted a vineyard and hired workers to take care of it. When the vintage time came, he sent his servants to the tenants to obtain his produce. Overtaken by evil in their hearts and minds, the tenants killed every servant that the landowner came to see them.  Finally, he sent his son to them, thinking that they would respect him. But just the same, they killed him to acquire his inheritance.

How could they do such evil thing despite the kindness of the landowner to them? Simply, it’s the greed and the hatred in their hearts.

So how do we overcome evil in the world? How can we not let it influence people? The only way is by imbuing the world with the Spirit of Jesus Christ that embodies the Kingdom of God, which is a kingdom of love, justice, and peace.

Propreacher’s article on the Las Vegas massacre expresses this truth solidly: “Jesus is the hope of the world, not the president. Jesus is the hope of the world, not stricter gun laws. We will not find salvation in anyone or anything else. Jesus is the hope of the world. Period.”

The author further claims:  “If we want to stop darkness, we need to bring more light to the world. It starts within our hearts. The world is a dark place. We need more light, and Jesus is the light we need. Christ alone has the power to bring people from darkness to light, and he has commissioned us, his followers, to help.”

The Second Reading this Sunday (Phil 4:6-9) conveys the same message:  “Finally brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Keep on doing what you have learned and received and heard and seen in me. Then the God of peace will be with you.”

May we not let evil enter our hearts! May we conquer it with goodness, kindness, peace and all that embodies the Person of Jesus Christ!

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From a Filipino immigrant family, Reverend Rodel G. Balagtas was ordained to the priesthood from St. John’s Seminary in 1991. He served as Associate Pastor at St. Augustine, Culver City (1991-1993); St. Martha, Valinda (1993-1999); and St. Joseph the Worker, Canoga Park (1991-2001). In 2001, he served as Administrator Pro Tem of St. John Neumann in Santa Maria, CA, until his appointment as pastor of Immaculate Heart of Mary, Los Angeles, in 2002, which lasted 12 years. His term as Associate Director of Pastoral Field Education at St. John’s Seminary began in July 2014.  

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