Aurora CO Shooting: The Problem of Evil
I haven't written or blogged this weekend, because my heart has been heavy. I have been praying for the victims, families, and the suspect in the Colorado shootings. The Holy Spirit moves me to write now. Because, what has become clear to me as the days have unfolded is this: free will is real. No matter how many modern apostates, agnostics, atheists, and the various others who reject God, try do deny it, it is clear and evident.CCC 1730 - God created man a rational being, conferring on him the dignity of a person who can initiate and control his own actions. God willed that man should be left in the hand of his own counsel, so that he might of his own accord seek his Creator and freely attain his full and blessed perfection by cleaving to him." The problem is quite simple, in his freedom man is also quite capable of rejecting the freely given love and mercy of God. When he does, he becomes something like an animal. Raging against created order and reality. Rejecting the dignity of the human person. Raising himself up to the highest dignity, while at the same time struggling with his own self worth. Why? Because he rejects God as Father. He rejects, the only one capable of healing his spiritual schizophrenia. In today's world he is encouraged by a stable of "doctors" who reject the human soul. I work with kids who suffer from the utter absence of love in their lives. What does ever "doctor" want to do? Medicate them! Tell them they can't help it. Tell them they are sick and it isn't their fault! This nonsense encourages a moral ethic, in which there is not responsibility for human actions. It eliminates free will and choice. Nothing could be further from the truth! You are in control of your own actions, and when You order your heart, your mind and your will, to God, you order it to humility, joy, peace, mercy, and ultimately love, first of God, and then of neighbor. When we cling to God we become more fully human. St. Ireaeus once said: "Man is rational and therefore like God; he is created with free will and is master over his acts." Speculation and other NonsenseAs the days pass all of the major media outlets will seek to answer the question: why did this happen? Few however, will look beyond worldly things to the supernatural. They may paint James Holmes (suspect) as a psychopath or they will allude to the fact that he was crazy. Maybe he is, I don't know. What I do know is that there will be very few that will suggest that he was a sinner overcome by evil. Few will suggest that he had given his life to the bondage of sin, which means, frankly, he had succumb to the devil. The problem of evil is a great stumbling block to faith for many people. Many people experience and event such as this and they say, "how can a loving God be real and let this happen?" I promise you that God gave Mr. Holmes all of the actual grace that he needed to come to a knowledge of the truth and to fall in love with Jesus Christ. For whatever reason he rejected it. The allure of sin was to great. The power of his passions governed his life. But, he was not likely crazy. He chose these things, and as a result he grew in bondage to evil.A Rational ManAt least to some degree Mr. Holmes by all accounts was rational. He had just left college, where he was an excellent student. It seems to me that the fact that he walked into the the movie theatre in body armor and through a flash bang before he started firing, indicates that he was intelligent enough to think through and plan this evil out. He rigged his apartment with booby traps, so that the police could not enter. His match.com profile says that he is an "agnostic." So, lets, put these things together. Mr. Holmes was reasonable enough to excel at school, research, warfare, make a plan to kill, people, and carry it out. Of course, you know that I think the whole thing reveals that he had epic errors in thinking. However, he was able to think, that is clear. God loves us enough to leave us to seek and find him, by our own counsel, dropping the actual grace of revelation, people, and signs into our life, to help guide us. However, as a result, of his own counsel, Mr. Holmes, it would seem sought a different path. One in no way congruent with the revelation of God. Once obstinately running down that path, you are running farther from God. Farther, from his paternal love. Growing, more skeptical, aggressive, and angry with each passing day. It seems to me that this may be the path that Mr. Holmes chose for himself. Only a man with no supernatural hope, could choose, plot, and carry out a mission of evil as destructive and contrary to the human desire for love and communion. Many will say Mr. Holmes was mentally ill. I think he signifies the greater problem in our culture, he was spiritually ill. His soul was sick and darkened by the lie evil.From Suffering God Brings GoodMaybe it's too early to talk about the good. And maybe our modern ears do not want to hear that being shot to death for someone else is a good thing. However, the video below and the story of one of the men who was shot in the attack, made me cry. Check it out:Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economyJohn is a Christ figure in the midst of evil. Jesus, an innocent man and the fullness of God's glory in the flesh, offered his life for the offenses of all who commit evil. Jesus Christ was the ultimate man, He willingly placed himself in the middle of chaos and aggressive torment, for the good of others. This is what it means to love. "Greater love hath no man than to lay down his life for his friends. And you are my friends if you do what I command you." John, without thought or concern for his own life, laid it down for the good of his girlfriend. In the middle of this stunning tragedy, we find the most human response, and yet the most divine response. The highest form of human love, a willingness to die for the good of another. Even in the middle of it all, in the middle of the cold blooded assassination of innocent people, a man, had the courage and ability to rationally choose to love his neighbor as himself. To love his neighbor as Jesus Christ did, to death. This is charity, when men and women act for the good of one another without counting the cost. This is how are culture will be renewed. Not by government intervention. Rather, by men infected with the love of Christ, to the point that they are willing to lay down their lives, in loving service of others. This is what real men do. It is how real men are called to live and to love.We Cannot KnowWe can speculate and we can wonder as much as we might like, however, it is difficult to discern why God allows a specific evil to happen. What good will come from it? Are we open to see this good in shadow of the evil committed? What we can be sure of is that it is always a sign that greater fidelity to the gospel is necessary. It is always a sign that the principles of Christian living are in need of conversion. Most importantly the problem of evil is never a legitimate reason to reject Christianity as in this case, God can always bring a great good out of suffering and evil. John's story is the perfect example of what the saints say about evil.CCC: 312 and St. Augustine say : "For almighty God..., because he is supremely good, would never allow any evil whatsoever to exist in his works if he were not so all-powerful and good as to cause good to emerge from evil itself." St. Thomas Aquinas says: There is nothing to prevent human nature's being raised up to something greater, even after sin; God permits evil in order to draw forth some greater good."St. Paul says: "Where sin increased, grace abounded all the more; and the Exultet sings, O happy fault, ...which gained for us so great a Redeemer!"If we see with eyes of faith, this story alone is a beautiful commentary on what the human person is capable of and more importantly how God draws good from evil. We saw it with the martyrs of the Church. And in a certain way we have seen it with John. John was a courageous self giving man. From every human tragedy, the Christian ethos, emerges. In this case, it has done so with great clarity and profundity.I would ask you to pray for John for the repose of his soul and for his family. Pray for all of the victims and their families. And truly pray for Mr. Holmes. He is a wretched fallen man. Pray for the repose of his soul as well as the repose of the souls of all of those who lost their lives in Aurora.