Put Out into the Deep

We Live in a Violent Society

My dear brothers and sisters in the Lord,

Christmas came early this year in Queens when a desperate mother left her newborn infant in the just erected Nativity scene at Holy Child Jesus Church in Richmond Hill where Bishop Octavio Cisneros is pastor. Certainly, it was a much better ending for that child than the two newborn infants who have been discovered thrown from buildings in the past month.

As we progress in Advent, we saw a terrible massacre at the Planned Parenthood office in Colorado Springs. The deranged assailant mumbling about body parts of babies somehow justified in his mind the violence he perpetrated against innocent people. And early this month, the carnage in San Bernardino, California, reminds us that domestic terrorism, especially inspired by international terrorism, is very much a problem which we need to confront in our society today.

There was a telling headline in one of our most read newspapers saying, “God Isn’t Fixing This.” Yes, how true it is that God cannot fix the problem of evil in our world which we have contributed to in so many ways as individuals and as a society. No, there is no miracle fix to the problem of evil, especially as it is manifested in violence in our society. We must realize that the United States, unfortunately, is one of the most violent societies in the world today. Notwithstanding war-torn areas, the violence perpetrated in our society many times is less vivid but just as real. The violence of abortion, child abuse, domestic abuse, as well as crimes perpetrated on innocent victims points to the basic change needed in our society. How can we make a difference in teaching the dignity of human life and respect for persons? Is it the movies which our children watch, the video games or, most probably, the violence in families which only is later manifested outside the home? What can be done?

When we look at the whole issue of abortion rights, childbearing practices in our country where we lack a clear pro-family policy, we will never fix the evils of abortion or domestic poverty without the will to be a pro-family country. We do not realize how other societies who are much friendlier to the growth and maintenance of families than our own. I do not mean welfare societies. Just other civilized countries that support family life. Positive steps can be taken to improve the lives of families that I believe can reduce the incidents of violence against the unborn and the born.

How can we not look at the issue of gun control? This is a hot political issue argued from so many aspects, especially the constitutional right to bear arms. But is that right absolute, just as the right to personal privacy? Our Constitution and its legal interpretations, perhaps, will not offer the answer to our human problems which demand that we make basic changes in our way of thinking and voting as a society. Security and protection is the most basic principle of societal freedom and growth. Unfortunately, we are entering an era when our security on many levels is challenged, domestically and internationally. We cannot be pacifists in the face of an assault on the most basic values of our society.

What can we say about domestic and international terrorism? Terrorism is irrational; there is no understanding or reason for it. It is violence, pure and simple. It happened last week in East New York when an elderly African-American man returning home from church on Sunday evening was mugged by two teenagers, which incidentally happened to both of my Italian-American grandparents in their old age in Newark.

How can young people disrespect the lives of the elderly? Perhaps they do not feel respected themselves? What do we do about the violence around us where now so many individuals in our city have armed themselves, not just the criminals, but also others as well? Are we returning to the Wild West where everyone packs a gun? Is this the direction in which we are headed?

No, God will not fix our world. It is we who must fix our world. As we come ever closer to Christmas, perhaps we can meditate on these closing days of Mary’s pregnancy, a real pregnancy attested to in Scriptures, especially when Mary visited Elizabeth, her cousin, and the child John the Baptist leapt in her womb in response to the nearness of the Savior. Mary’s virginity, before, during and after childbirth, gives us an understanding of God’s love for humanity that He would have His Son take real human flesh from the womb of a virgin to be born as the Savior of the World. Mary’s carrying of Jesus in her womb reminds us that each one of us carries Christ with us and He needs to be born in our lives at Christmas.

This celebration of Christmas forces us to put out into the deep away from ourselves to recognize the miracle of the life that has been given to us and the life that has been saved by the birth of Jesus Christ. We need to look to our world and attend to its needs. We cannot flee becoming involved in fixing what needs to be done for the sake of our common security.

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