Dear members of the CMH family,
Traditionally, the Third Sunday of Advent is known as Gaudete Sunday. Gaudete means “rejoice” and the day is to be a brief interruption of the season of preparation looking ahead to the joys of Christmas. But, this year, it does not seem fitting to don the rose-colored vestments of joy when sadness weighs down upon us.
The tragic violence of what happened at Sandy Hook has neither explanation, nor silver linings. Whatever reason might be found, or cause which might be determined, it is fair to accept that there is, in this event, the presence of evil. In response, it is necessary in faith to hold that only goodness and love can ultimately be victorious.
So many prayers need to be offered for so many touched by this tragedy. But, I have in my heart a special thought for the priests, ministers, and rabbis who will walk with the families, especially, the parents, of the victims in coming days. The struggle of grief is often a search for meaning and a simultaneous fight for, but resistance of, closure. It will be too tempting for some to try to draw these suffering families into the externals of this tragic moment, however important to our culture the issues might be.
Our faith tells us that what God wants for us is to know that we are loved and, in being created in His image and likeness, we can show some small sliver of the fruitful, life-giving love which God shows to us. This is why the love of husband and wife is a sacrament, and why the love between a parent and child is the near perfect opportunity to realize God’s embrace of our souls.
When Jesus told the disciples to let the children come unto him because “the kingdom of heaven belongs to just such as these,” he was not just offering words which give us consolation today. In a deep and abiding truth, he was offering us a Christian insight into the path toward fulfillment in our lives. He teaches us that the love of children, with the double meaning of the love given and the love received, is itself an incarnate and vivid rendering of God’s love present among and embracing all that he has created.
In this season, we look forward to Emmanuel, God with us, bringing comfort to His people. It is the sincerest hope of all the faithful that each of these families can find in their prayers, can treasure in their hearts, and can build upon in their lives, the sure and certain knowledge that even in lives so tragically ended there was a joyous experience of love, of God’s love, to hold so dear.
Therein is a path which fulfills God’s plan for each soul welcomed to the heavenly banquet. Therein is the path to consolation for each of us who remain. That in each day we have in this world we live in the knowledge and hope that we are created by God to fully receive, and selflessly offer, His love in every encounter he have.
May the victims, the children, of Sandy Hook be remembered for the love which God showed to them, and through them, in their ever so brief time on this earth. For all of us, this will be a path to eternal joy.
Fr. Paul Hartmann, '84