Comfort My People — The God we have

Archbishop Shelton J. Fabre

I expect that many of us have acknowledged and reflected on our thoughts and feelings over these past few weeks regarding the recent mass shootings, as well as ongoing gun violence, in the city of Louisville.

In dealing with emotions from these tragic events, we are very much like the disciples after the crucifixion and death of Jesus. The disciples were dealing with the tragedy of his death and the emotions in their hearts. They were hurting, confused and perhaps numb and emotionally exhausted. They had questions. They could have asked “Why?” and “How does this happen?” or “How are we going to make it through this?” They may have asked: “Where was God?” or “Why did he let this happen?” or “Where is God now?”

The disciples had deep emotions and questions, and Jesus sought them out. Jesus met them in their emotions and questions. Jesus was seeking them, and when He found them, He said, “Peace be with you.”  

In like manner, Jesus is seeking out you and me, and He meets us where we are, wishing us the peace that comes from trust in Him.

One intriguing person who struggled to understand and overcome his questions was St. Thomas the Apostle. Even with Thomas’ doubts, Jesus seeks him out. Jesus met Thomas where he was. 

I am also struck with how Jesus assured Thomas. It was Jesus’ wounds that ministered to Thomas: His wounds. In John 20 we read, “Then he said to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here and see my hands, and bring your hand and put it into my side, and do not be unbelieving, but believe.’ ”

Jesus — the risen Jesus, the glorified Jesus — still has the wounds of His passion. The wounds that marked his death, the wounds that were once marred with pain, are now filled with His risen glory. “Peace be with you” has filled his wounds, and Thomas is a first-hand witness of the glorified wounds of the Lord in His risen body. Jesus rose from the dead. His glorified body rose from the dead. And that body — that glorified body — still has the wounds from the Cross. Of course, they are filled with light and grace, but the wounds are still there. Jesus is not afraid of His wounds, and He does not shy away from them.

At times when life is difficult, that’s the kind of God I need today. I need a God who isn’t afraid of my emotions or my questions or where I am. I need a God who is going to pursue me, seek me out, come to find me. I need a God who when he finds me says, “Peace be with you.” And I need a God who isn’t afraid of his wounds or my wounds or our wounds. I need a God who is on one hand victorious over suffering and death but is at the same time with me as I deal with the reality of suffering and pain. 

That’s the God I need. That’s the God you need. And that’s the God we have.

The wounds of our community from these horrific mass shootings and gun violence will always be with us; we will always feel the terrible loss of those killed. But we can fill in our community’s wounds with our good deeds by striving to enhance our respect for the sanctity of all human life and always remembering the precious lives that disregard for the sanctity of life costs us. 

Jesus’ wounds are always with Him, but they are glorified by His great love for us. May our community’s wounds, which will always be with us, be glorified because they lead us to greater love and respect for one another, respect for the life of every person.

What can we do? 

First, be where you are. Be honest with “where” you are, with what’s going on in your heart.

Second, trust that God is seeking you, trying to find you in your questions, emotions and struggles. 

Third, remember that Jesus, the risen Lord, is with us no matter what. Whether we feel Him or not, whether we see Him or not, Jesus is with us. Invite Him into your heart. He appeared to the disciples in the Upper Room, even though the door was locked. Open the “door” to your heart and trust that He will enter with similar words: “Peace be with you.” 

Finally, let us continue our efforts to pray and work for the respect and dignity of the human life of every person, especially in response to gun violence and mass shootings. We must promote more civil discourse and work together to enact laws that build greater security and answer these problems. 

For years, the Catholic bishops of the United States have called for sensible gun legislation, and the Catholic Conference of Kentucky aligns itself with the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops in advocating for gun control here in Kentucky. 

For more information on the U.S. bishops’ positions, see

May our community’s discussions and efforts to truly seek to address senseless gun violence and mass shootings lead us to prudent answers and actions in response to the violence that has caused the death of so many innocent people, causing heartbreak and pain in so many families. 

May God guide us together into the answers and actions we need. Peace be with you!

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