I want to be brutally honest with you.
The hardest part, for me personally, about this weekends shooting, at a Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, TX truly shocked me.
It wasn't the numbers of dead and wounded - though that was tragic.
It wasn't that the pastor lost his own daughter in the shooting - though that was heartbreaking.
It wasn't even the (again) ignored incidents of domestic violence, or the lack of interest in our elected officials wanting to do something - ANYTHING - to stop this kind of event from happening again.
The hardest part. The worst part. For me? Was my first response to this tragedy.
"Oh, another shooting. Too bad nothing will happen."
It was hard for me, a Christian Pastor, to muster an emotional response because this is happening so often. Everyday there is more gun violence, more angry husbands, more emotionally disturbed young men, more incidents of violent extremism. And everyday we as a country seek to do nothing to prevent it from happening again.
Maybe you are like me? Maybe you are also tired of what seems like almost weekly reminders of how many guns are on our streets and how unwilling we are collectively to stop it. Maybe you are tired of getting upset. Tired of feeling hurt and angry and sad. Maybe you don't know what else to do.
There is an increasing amount of condemnation of 'thoughts and prayers' in the wake of shootings like this - and while I agree that thoughts and prayers are not enough, they serve an important purpose.
Because Sunday Afternoon, after I took some time to breathe, and pray, and consider Jesus' pain at yet another mass shooting at the hands of a young man with a semi-automatic weapon, I was reminded that there is still much for us to do. Jesus offered me the strength to cry, to mourn, to open myself up to feel a bit of the pain of that community, of that pastor, and of the thousands of victims and relatives of victims of gun violence around the country and right here in Baltimore. I was reminded that we still pray for the victims of gun violence every day. I was reminded that Reggie Jefferson, a security guard at Pedestal Gardens, was shot just a few blocks from Memorial for doing his job.
So friends, please don't stop praying. But also don't forget that we have a common responsibility to work to end violence by being active in our communities, by cutting off the flow of cheap guns into our cities and towns, and by creating spaces for people to share their stories of pain and hurt before they turn into violent acts of retribution - whether it's because of a drug beef, a domestic incident, mental illness, or just pure anger.
So keep praying friends. Keep listening, and keep working for peace.
in peace, Father Grey