Again, we must process another nameless horror. Gilroy, California is drenched in innocent blood. Everything else should pale in significance. Here’s the report so far:
Bloody scenes, as terrified revelers run for their lives when ‘shooter in fatigues opens fire with a semi-automatic weapon’ on the Gilroy Garlic Festival in California, killing three and leaving at least 11 people injured (early reports had listed an incorrect number, of 60 injured).
Stephen Romero, the 6-year-old “loving boy” killed in the shooting, is the only victim who has so far been identified by local authorities. Two other festival-goers killed in the shooting have yet to be named. Limited details have been circulated about others injured in the shooting that remain in hospital.
Gunfire erupted at the Gilroy Garlic Festival in Northern California 6 p.m. Sunday
It is unclear whether any suspects have been arrested, as the scene is still active, but the suspected gunman has been identified by law enforcement, though his motive in shooting up an event attended by nearly 100,000 people each year, many of them families, is still unclear.
Several witnesses reported hearing popping noises and then seeing a man in military fatigues spraying the crowd with bullets from a semi-automatic weapon
Video shows panicked attendees fleeing the park after the shots rang out
President Donald Trump tweeted that the shooter had not yet been apprehended
Anyone who saw anything during the shooting to call police at 408-846-0583
Even so, the usual suspects will disgrace themselves. They will rub salt in the wounds of those who have lost loved ones by making a political grandstand. Please: somebody shut these people up!
Grief counselors will dispense trite psycho-babble. Their advice will harp on environmental factors to help explain this madman’s behavior.
Vacuous theologians will tell us, “God has a plan in all of this.”
Doomsday prophets will spew venom, saying, “See, I told you so! This is God judging America!”
The lack of comfort, decency, and sanity, are a testament to how degraded America has become. But that too, is for another time.
The families and friends of those murdered should not be in the middle of religious, psychological, or political debates. They should not be ‘click-bait’ for internet trolls. This behavior is beyond disgusting.
What then, do they need to hear?
They need to hear us say that we know this is an unspeakable loss and a terrible tragedy. It is a loss that cannot be calculated. Not a day will go by for the rest of their lives when they will not feel the loss. It is an insult not to realize this. We must, as the Word of God says, “weep with those who weep.” Jesus wept at the grave of Lazarus—feeling the sorrow of Martha and Mary—even though He knew He would raise Lazarus from the dead.
We must tell them that we do not know how they feel. How can we? Even those of us who have suffered great loss cannot possibly say we know how this horror is crashing into their souls. We must tell them how sorry we are for a loss we cannot imagine.
We must tell them: God didn’t do this. Telling them that is the hardest part. Jesus settled the question when He taught us how to pray: “Father, Your will be done on Earth, as it is in Heaven.” These words presuppose that, in many ways, and in many situations, God’s will is not being done on Earth.
We must allow them to vent their grief, and to express their anger toward God, but at the same time, we must not malign God. They will soon be reaching out to Him. We cannot cut off that lifeline.
Lastly, we must admit the existence of evil. This shooter, still at large, chose to do evil. He willingly surrendered to the dark undertow of the evil one. Don’t blame his upbringing. Plenty of us have had horrendous childhoods, but we didn’t resort to mass murder. This was an act of pure evil.
It would also be wrong for me to appropriate this massacre as a topic for a sermon on America’s decadence. That comes later. The right thing to do now is for the nation to wrap its collective arms around these innocent people who are in the grip of unrelenting sadness and grief.
These words from the Desert News given after the Las Vegas massacre still ring true, “Even if citizens and politicians cannot find common ground on political issues, they can search out common ground in the manner they engage with each other. For now, the nation can unite in prayer and care for victims and their families. They can support those who mourn the loss of loved ones and they can try to bring about greater peace even amidst the chaos caused by such unconscionable evil.”