While we are grateful that members of our community here at UMass Dartmouth that were in Boston yesterday are safe and sound, we are also painfully aware of so many who were injured and those who were killed. One of those killed was possibly a student or graduate of our sister school in Boston.
I’ve been in touch with Fr. Paul Helfrich, the Chaplain there to let him know of our prayers and support. On that note, I’ve also expressed your prayers and concerns to Fr. Sean Connor, the pastor of St. Ann’s in Neponset where little Martin Richards and his family go to Church. Please continue to pray for the victims who are recovering.
The first reading today tells us of the martyrdom of St. Stephen. The story gives us an example that human violence towards others is, sadly, nothing new. Yet, we still persevere in hope. Let me share why this is so.
Watching the tragic events unfold yesterday, I was struck that the darkness and chaos was soon overshadowed by the mystery of hope. Within seconds, first responders, race volunteers and spectators rushed to aid the injured or to help evacuate the area. As the minutes turned into hours, residents of Boston reached out to the hundreds of thousands of visitors who had come into the city to celebrate and found themselves suddenly stranded. As we moved into the evening hours, the airwaves were filled with more and more stories of resilience and compassion. The message sent out was loud and clear: we will not be defined by the evil in our midst or by the tragedies that occur. We will be defined by hope, compassion, love and strength.
It is Stephen’s ability to remain focused on the glory of God that allows him to persevere in faith and hope, even in the face of martyrdom. This evening we will receive the gift of the Lord’s body and blood in the Eucharist. This is the most intimate union possible with the Lord in our daily lives and the one that nourishes faith and keeps us hopeful. As the author of the Letter of Hebrews wrote hope is the “anchor of the soul” (Heb 6:19a).
Regardless of the attempts of evil and suffering to distract us, we remain connected to a loving God and hope in his promises for us. Let us share this hope with others to remind ourselves that we are not alone, that we need to look out for one another and to care for one another. Let us remind ourselves that the hope for peace is still as strong as ever and that together, we can work to make our world one where peace, justice and joy prevails.