As I have watched some of the video footage that has come out of France in the last two days - evocative images of human carnage: torment, grief, sorrow, and suffering, my mind has once again been directed to the question - why all this suffering? Why is the human family so often experiencing agony? In ancient, Greco-Roman times, Jesus of Nazareth was approached by a group of individuals who wanted him to explain a great tragedy for the Jewish nation. A group of Galilean Jews had been in their temple worshiping and Pilate had come in and mingled the blood of the worshipers with the sacrifices they were offering. A massacre had occurred in a holy site of the Jews.Jesus answered the question of tragedy, violence, injustice, and visible evil with these words, twice repeated, "but, you repent." What an incredibly strange response. What did he mean? How could those ancient words offer me a direction for my own jumbled internal space where thoughts seem to have jagged edges today and as they cascade around my mind they gash and wound? How could Jesus help me process human persons slaughtering other human persons - a longitudinal, unremitting willful slaughtering of each other without reprieve?
Well, I think the first response to great evil and great suffering is always humility. I need to repent - or turn aside, from thinking I could ever understand why this evil took place - I couldn't. I need to repent of immediately reflexing to an analytical, disembodied, abstract conceptualization response to the depth of this tragedy rather than simply surrendering to a lament that embraces the other and shares the sorrowing space of the other. I need to resort to weeping with those who weep - not as something I perceive as provisional, until I figure out something better; but as my best response.
And... more than this, as I step back from this tragedy, I find the premeditation of the terrorists completely repugnant, their violence dehumanizing and their bravado after the fact - soul-less. The disfigured beauty of human-beingness that the violators of this action display asks me some deep questions - what have they known of love?, and more, what have they known of God?
I think that as I weep with those who weep I must also courageously respond to this question: " where in my own community can I offer love to those who are being dehumanized?"