No man is an island,
Entire of itself,
Every man is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manor of thy friend’s
Or of thine own were:
Any man’s death diminishes me,
Because I am involved in mankind,
And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls;
It tolls for thee.
–John Donne, 1624
The pain and the grief are sharpest for those closest to that broken place in Orlando, yet ours is a real grief, too, no matter how far away we may live or how much might our lifestyle differ from that of the victims. In times like these, we affirm the overriding importance of our common humanity. Those deadly bullets have reached our hearts, too.
And if our hearts grieve for and with the victims and their families and their friends, how much greater is the suffering of our Creator, who knew and loved and cherished each person there.
Just as this is not the time for politicians to feed off the victims, like hyenas stealing the victims of the jackals, so it is not the time for small minds to say that, had God truly loved those people, he could have saved them. We have not been created to be puppets but to be responsible persons in God’s image, responsible to be loving and gracious, responsible to God for ourselves.
God hurts for the wounded people of Orlando. He matches in his own heart every moment of agony, tear for tear. And his heart cries out for us to learn what he has been teaching us all along, that grace is greater than sin, love is greater than hate, justice is greater than evil, and humility is greater than hubris.
This I believe: Justice will win in the end because God is just. If that were not true, we would have self-destructed long, long ago.