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Healing Our Soul

December 21st, 2012by Mary Anne Bressler

Everyone in our nation has been stunned by the mass murders of small children and the school staff at Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut. We want answers, we want solutions. Some of our searching will focus on gun laws, some on mental illness and our health care system. We will likely see quite a lot of debate and argument about specific issues. I’ve noticed a sense of helplessness among many people, as though this is an intractable problem (or series of problems) that are beyond our ability.

I have begun to think that the problem is that laws and health care policies might not be the heart of the matter. I think that what is ailing is our collective soul. I think this is showing up not just in horrific acts of violence. I think it is obvious in the gridlock at all levels of our government, where “winning” is more important than serving the people. It is in the mindless consumerism that is so very obvious during the Christmas season. It permeates our lives and causes us to lose faith in our own fundamental goodness.

To find solutions to any of our gravest concerns, I think we need to have the spirit and the imagination to envision the world differently. We have to regain a sense of hope, of optimism—of resurrection. Death doesn’t win in our faith. God brings new life out of the most tragic and impossible situations. If we who follow Christ make a concerted effort to love our enemy, to forgive those who harm us, who care for the sick and the poor and the outcast, we are laying the groundwork for an end to violence and indifference and despair. We are creating a new society, one in which the will for change comes not from the top, with laws and policies, but from the bottom, with vision and heart. Perhaps this sounds like the ravings of a cock-eyed optimist because our view of the nature of humankind has become incredibly negative. I think that it reflects the fundamental reality of our belief system: we are created in God’s image and likeness and God gives us what we need to be better: “I will give you a new heart and place a new spirit within you, taking from your bodies your stony hearts and giving you natural hearts.” (Ezekiel 36: 26) As we hear from the angel in Luke’s gospel: “nothing will be impossible for God.” In 2013, I hope that we let God back into our lives and accept the awesome possibilities.

Mary Anne Bressler

Mary Anne Bressler is a parishioner and Pastoral Associate at St. Anthony Church in Madisonville and an adjunct faculty member at Xavier University.