“The soul of this nation is hurt,” said Bishop Nelson Perez in his homily at a special Mass for peace and healing that was celebrated on Nov. 9 at the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist.
The bishop said he was traveling last weekend and spent time in airports. He recalled seeing people clustered around television screens on Nov. 5 as they absorbed the news of the murder of 26 people in a church in Sutherland Springs, Texas.
“People were in disbelief. They were saying, ‘Oh no, it just can’t be,’” he said, adding that the country still was reeling from the news just six days earlier – on Halloween — of eight people who were killed after being run over intentionally by a man driving a truck on a bike path in New York City.
On Nov. 6, as he waited for his plane, Bishop Perez said he was checking the news and “saw a picture of a beautiful woman who was a victim (of the Texas church murders). My eyes filled with tears and my heart was sinking in sadness. Once again this country has to face another violent attack,” he said, adding, “The soul of the nation is hurt by these evil actions.”
He asked that the Gospel of St. Mark, which dealt with a boy who was possessed by a stubborn evil spirit, be proclaimed at the Mass because it reminds us that when we come face to face with evil, the only way to conquer it is through the power of good and the power of prayer. In the Gospel, the apostles could not understand why they could not drive the evil spirit from the boy. Jesus said to them, “This kind can only come out through prayer.”
“How can we listen to the call for peace that comes from the depths of our souls?” Bishop Perez asked. “We can begin with the way we treat each other – the way we talk, respect and tolerate each other. We must be an instrument of peace,” he said.
The theme of peace and healing was echoed in the earlier readings at the Mass, as well as in the Universal Prayer.
In the second reading from St. Paul to the Ephesians, he urges them to be kind to one another, compassionate and forgiving “as God has forgiven you in Christ.”
The bishop added that as people of faith, we need to do what we do best.
“We pray. We offer our prayers in the sacrifice of the Mass, which is the most perfect prayer. We pray for healing and peace and in our prayer today we ask God to deliver us from this evil,” he said.