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Wednesday was the feast day of St. Francis of Assisi, the devoted man of God who founded the Franciscan Order. He is also remembered for his love of all of God’s creation, particularly animals, and for the prayer he wrote, asking that God make him an instrument of His peace.

That prayer was much on my heart this week, following the tragic events in Las Vegas. So many people I know had friends and family in that crowd last Sunday night. Some of those friends and family were wounded, and some died.

The horror of such an assault on humanity is stunning. Maddening. Heartbreaking. But we cannot allow it to numb us and freeze us in place. If we allow our hearts to harden, we have turned our backs on God. If we give ground to hatred, we fail in our duty to the Kingdom. In the face of evil, we must continue to stand for grace, hope, and love.

In the less-often invoked second half of Francis’ prayer, he asks:

“O divine Master, grant that I may
not so much seek to be consoled as to console,
to be understood as to understand,
To be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.”

As we pray for the victims and their families, as we give thanks for the first responders, as we seek positive answers to complex problems, may we do so with the light of Christ shining through us. May we seek to bring peace, consolation, and understanding to our own hearts and to the troubled hearts around us. May we serve as true instruments of God’s peace in our tormented world.

“But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.”
James 3:17-18