Faith Tested, But Hope And Love Remain

By Rev. Adam Bunnell

Tragedy – especially tainted by the ugly shadow of hatred – unites all of us in our common humanity. None of us escapes the horror, the anger, the disbelief that engulfs us at moments like the one we are currently experiencing.

A gathering of chaplains in the midst of the numbness that enveloped us on Tuesday found the same sense of disbelief that others felt. The fear that the world could not overcome hatred was tangible. Tears, hugs, silence, talk just to talk and prayer were the expressions of both the closeness we felt and the aloneness we could not bridge as we reflected on the horror we witnessed through the repeated images on the screens that we encountered throughout campus. We were those who needed to be ministered to in order to heal the pain and the anger and the sense of senselessness.

Chaplains have no satisfactory answers to the thousand questions all focused on the one word: “Why?” We stand in silent humility before the mystery of hatred so strong that it masks itself as some strange crusade that blindly lashes out and kills. We search deep inside for the hope that is still there – a hope in the ultimate triumph of a God of justice and mercy. We are angry but know that that anger must be tamed and not be allowed to extinguish the search for truth and reason. We stand together to say that justice demands that we not channel our anger toward a particular people or religion. We stand in solidarity with those of all religions who work together to build justice and peace.

We know that these are times that not only test our faith and our resolve, but also make us wonder, “Where is God?” Yet the hope is real. It is not some empty rhetoric. It is rooted in the faces of those that mourn and yet do not despair. It is manifest in those who are angry but know that they must turn that anger to building a just world. It is a part of those who come together to pray, to ponder, to continue to believe even in the midst of doubt.

All around Georgetown, in the students and faculty and staff and friends and yes, even in the chaplains, we find evidence that we are resolved that we will not let ourselves become the mirror image of those whose hate has caused such pain. We will continue to love and to stand together in pain but also in hope that even this will not conquer us. Today, together we renew our resolved and strengthen our trust that God lives and calls us beyond hatred into love.

Rev. Adam Bunnell, O.F.M., Conv. is the university chaplain.

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