|The sign outside the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas.|
A drama by T.S. Eliot, first performed in 1935, portrayed the assassination of Archbishop Thomas Becket in Canterbury Cathedral in 1170. It was entitled ‘Murder in the Cathedral.’ Yet in a small country church in the heart of Texas, another multiple murder took place yesterday. In what people believe to be the safest place to be, worshiping in a church, 26 people were gunned down by another insane killer. After recent attacks in Las Vegas, New York City and even in our tiny island of Malta, this time it was the small town of Sutherland Springs, a community of 400 people. As parishioners of the First Baptist Church were attending the 11AM service, the senseless slaughter was carried out with a military-style rifle by a 26-year-old who had been discharged from the Air Force for bad conduct.
|An aerial view of the church property in Sutherland Springs, Texas.|
People attend churches all over the world, especially on a Sunday, the Lord’s Day. While Catholic churches are the largest in size and in the size of the congregation, yet there are thousands of little community churches belonging to a variety of denominations. Ordinary folks, families with children, elderly couples and individuals gather for Sunday services, to pray, sing, share stories, listen to God’s Word, and frequently socialize afterwards. It’s a scene that is repeated all over the world in parishes, and it’s a joy to see people flock to their churches. It’s what we as priests pray for daily. Yet today we have to pause and pray for the 26 victims of this terrible tragedy, for their families, for the 20 injured, and for the entire community of Sutherland Springs, many of whom were gathered in that church. Lord grant them eternal rest, and welcome them into Your home, which is now their new home for ever.