Tuesday, November 27, 2007

"Evil is all around us"

This is obviously a very difficult day for all Washington Redskins fans. I'm sure that there are many sports teams who have a familial quality to them, but it seems even more so with the Skins. So, when one of our players dies, it's like a family member dying. Life seems to stop, or at least everything else seems to pale in comparison with the tragedy of the loss of a loved one. And, Sean Taylor was loved.

We don't know yet what exactly happened on Monday morning or the days, weeks, and maybe even years leading up to it, but it is a tragedy. A young man who appeared to be changing his life dies at the age of 24. He showed so much promise in professional and personal ways. He was arguably the MVP of the Redskins; his absence in the past 2 1/2 games has played a major factor in those games resulting in losses. He changed many of the games he played in and probably had the most intimidating presence of any football player on the planet.

The readings at Mass this morning seem to lead in to this, so I told the students and adults who were there that nothing lasts forever in this world except for Jesus. As massive as the Temple in Jerusalem was, it was destroyed. As dominating as the Roman Empire was, it collapsed. As powerful as Sean Taylor was, he died. Only Christ lives forever. It is my great hope that Sean lived with Christ and died with Christ. "I hope he went to Church on Sunday" (the old line from Fr Wells).

It has been great to see the Redskins and their fans turn to prayer in such a strong way. I hope that continues...that we all continue to pray for the Taylor family. Also, we pray for those responsible for his death, and try to forgive them. But, in our grief, let us not get lazy in our theology and blame God for this - "God had other plans for Sean" was a quote I've seen already. Sean Taylor died because someone chose to kill him. God didn't kill him nor did He cause him to die. Sean's death is a part of God's passive will (in which He allows evil), not His active will.

One final thing for all of us to remember, which is another quote from FW: "evil is all around us". We are reminded of this every day, but especially when a direct act of evil takes the life of someone we love.


At 1:25 PM, Anonymous M.A. said...

I didn't know Sean Taylor personally. I knew what I read about him in the Sports and Metro sections. I was often frustrated at him as he squandered the many blessings he'd been given by making poor choices.

However, when I heard today that he had died, my heart grew very heavy. I was sad for his daughter who will grow up without a father. I was sad for his parents who lost a son. I was sad for the team, many of whom seemed to genuinely like him. I was sad for the fans, especially the young ones, who may have had their first introduction to the evil and violence in our society.

He was 24, he was rich, he was lucky enough to get his dreams fulfilled. And yet he was touched by the same evil that hurts people all over the world.

I hope everyone will take this opportunity to focus on how short and fragile life is. An 18 month old little girl will never know her Daddy. Let us pray for her and the Taylor family that God will comfort them at this horrible time.

At 2:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The hardest thing for me to digest is that God is merciful but he also extends His judgment. I tend to think all comes from one or the other and leave our free will out of the equation. Fran said, “God is always with us, but it is we who distance ourselves from Him and from His love, when we sin.” I know when I move away from God- it is evidenced in my actions and consequences. It’s funny, because when I do something that I know is wrong and willfully do it anyway, I don’t blame God for MY actions; when I sin, I don’t say, “God made me do it,” so why do I look at the actions of others (and the consequences of their actions) differently? I tend to get stuck in the question of why- why did God allow this to happen? But when I look to my self, I know my will- the great force of my will- is the direct cause of much that has caused me trouble in my life. By everything that seems reasonable to me, free will must be that same force in others’ lives, and yet I lapse back into what I known to be less reasonable- that God must have willed this act or that consequence. At this point, I think this understanding is becoming a mental exercise more than anything else- I think I know the truth but don’t always choose to embrace it. Embracing this truth means that there is evil all around us, and that is something that scares me.

At 11:43 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have been trying to make sense of evil, as it has been with us since the origin of man. I find it a hard concept, a negative one that seems to exist everywhere. I know I struggle with its effects, as they are often silent and insidious. Before I know it, if I am not really careful and observant of my surroundings and my thoughts, “IT” has me in a stronghold, enjoying its negativity and destruction. Not a place I enjoy visiting, but so readily available and accessible.

During my own life, I have witnessed, what I believe are evil acts or words. I suspect most of us have witnessed evil. The one thing that gets me through evil’s presence is to sit quietly, without the intrusion of man made noise and talk and listen to God. As I sit, tears of confusion often roll or gush down my face, but I am slowly learning to allow myself the acceptance of tears, pain and confusion for without evil, how would I know love, trust, hope and forgiveness?

I am learning that life is composed of many messages, some good and some bad, some easy to understand and some difficult to understand. I firmly believe each message has a mission. My job is to find the positive mission in a message, and share that positive energy.

When overwhelmed and confused by evil, I have to believe and trust that God knows what he is doing because my interpretation of events often makes no sense. “I myself shall give you a wisdom in speaking that all your adversaries will be powerless to resist or refute” (Luke 21:15).

At 2:11 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think this whole topic begs the question about the origins of evil- where does it come from? As all good originates from God, does all evil originate from Satan? If we have free will and choose sin, where does Satan factor in to the equation?

One topic I’ve never addressed, and never really wanted to learn about before, is the concept of Satan among us. Maybe it’s juvenile, but it freaks me out. I knew a priest a while ago (he’s since died), who was thought to have had “battles” with Satan. I was at dinner with him one night, and one of the hosts asked a question about the rumors of sounds coming from his room at the rectory, and I promptly excused myself before he could answer. The idea that there is evil in the world, and even the idea that I have perpetuated some of it is something I can deal with. The idea that Satan may have been at work when I did any of those things really disturbs me. The idea of Satan as a real physical manifestation in anyway bothers me beyond words.

At 4:01 PM, Blogger fran said...

Catechism of the Catholic Church

391 Behind the disobedient choice of our first parents lurks a seductive voice, opposed to God, which makes them fall into death out of envy. Scripture and the Church's Tradition see in this being a fallen angel, called "Satan" or the devil. The Church teaches that Satan was at first a good angel, made by God: "The devil and the other demons were indeed created naturally good by God, but they became evil by their own doing."

395 The power of Satan is, nonetheless, not infinite. He is only a creature, powerful from the fact that he is pure spirit, but still a creature. He cannot prevent the building up of God's reign. Although Satan may act in the world out of hatred for God and his kingdom in Christ Jesus, and although his action may cause grave injuries - of a spiritual nature and, indirectly, even of a physical nature - to each man and to society, the action is permitted by divine providence which with strength and gentleness guides human and cosmic history. It is a great mystery that providence whould permit diabolical activity, but "we know that in everything God works for good with those who love him."


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