Editor Emeritus - Ed Wilkinson

Presence Can Speak Louder Than Words

Sometimes words fail us.

What can you say to the parents of a child who has been killed in a senseless mass slaughter of innocents? Sometimes actions speak louder than words.

When Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio came to The NET’s studio last Monday afternoon to help us make sense of the tragic killing of school children and personnel in Newtown, Conn., he admitted, “I don’t think you can say too much. You just have to be with them. Hold their hand. Give them a hug. Let them know that people care.”

The bishop recalled an experience from not long ago. When two youngsters lost their lives trying to escape the ravages of Hurricane Sandy on Staten Island, the funeral was held in Brooklyn because of the family’s local roots. The bishop visited the funeral home and admitted that words paled in comparison to presence and touch.

“Words fail. It’s presence that makes a difference,” he said.

The struggle to explain the presence of evil in a world created by an all-loving God has been a challenge for the ages. As long as men and women have been aware of themselves, they have tried to reconcile the dilemma of evil in the world.

Bishop DiMarzio, who has tackled the same question several times in the past few years, assures us that God does not want bad things to happen.

“We have to distinguish between what God does and what man does. They’re two different things,” he explained.

Free Will to Choose Good or Evil

God is not the cause of evil. Bad choices by men and women are the results of Original Sin, and they bring evil into the world. God has given us all a chance to share in His goodness through participation in the life of Jesus. Our free will chooses either to engage in that love or to avoid it. The massacre in Newtown is a clear rejection of the divine presence in the world.

Why did Adam Lanza pull the trigger that unleashed the pain of death on many good people in Newtown? We don’t know the answer to that. Perhaps time will give us a glimpse into the man’s mind and soul. His destiny resides in the hands of a compassionate and all-loving God.

How do we change the mentality of violence in our culture?

“We have to change the attitude toward violence in our society,” says Bishop DiMarzio. “Violence is fed to us in all of the movies and the violent programs. It gets into people’s psyches.

“We have some thinking to do about how we change the culture of violence and ultimate destruction of life to be a pro-life culture.”

The slaughter of Holy Innocents came early this season. The feast, which is celebrated on Dec. 28, was made real in our midst when the children of Newtown were coldly murdered. The Holy Family overcame the threat of Herod by fleeing into Egypt. We can survive the killings in Newtown by realizing that the birth of the Christ Child signals the fact that God is involved in our daily lives.

The children are in a better place and are at peace. The challenge for us is to keep searching for the same peace that only faith can bring.

“It’s a spiritual understanding,” is the way Bishop DiMarzio puts it. “The cross is the answer to overcoming evil.”

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