Recent school shootings by a 15-year-old in Oregon, the latest in a string of such incidents, push a stunned public even further in its search for meaning.
Nothing is more meaningful than the comfort God's message brings to all of us. This message is the Christ, the true idea of God. It speaks to every individual of his or her eternal status as a child of God. This message is a powerful, healing force for grieving families and the public. And also for those labeled victims.
It is even so for those labeled criminals. The Christ awakens innocence in all of us as God's children. This is a dynamic, transforming presence. That's especially important to grasp when the perpetrators are children.
The Comforter, "the Spirit of truth" promised by Christ Jesus, reaches us individually in the ways we need reaching. The truth of God embraces us in times of tragedy and sustains us through the darkest of days. The Comforter reminds us all that good does not come to a close. It continues, as God continues. The Comforter helps us see the pure and safe child of His care, right where a tragedy appears to unfold. And, when needed, the Comforter awakens a dormant moral sense that enables one to discriminate between right and wrong.
What in our society triggers such tragedies? Common explanations: over 1,000 studies have made a connection between violence in the media and violence in the behavior of children; the copycatting of crimes is to blame; parents are too often absent; guns are too easily available.
There is something to be learned from each explanation, especially if it serves as a springboard to finding solutions. And those solutions will be more apparent and will hold up better with the underpinning of prayer.
Even though Jesus is not personally present to console us, he prayed for us. He said, "I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you" (John 14:16-18). There is no person, no matter how disturbed - and no event in the world, no matter how awful - where Christ isn't present to bring healing and renewal.
It helps to admit this. And then, to follow the admission with the needed prayer - one that recognizes the powerful "Spirit of truth," the promised Comforter, stirring and awakening what is good and truthful in each human heart. Innocence and immortality are true of our God-given identity.
The real identity of all men and women and children is that of God's reflection, shaped by God, by divine Life, and not by the media, copycat patterns of behavior, or parental neglect. Not one of these influences is equal to the influence of divine Life. Not one of them comes to any of us with the persistent healing force of divine Love's message. From a purely spiritual perspective, not one of these negative influences is really even a true influence. Put another way, what God is and what God does cannot be turned upside down into something terrible. God is the one true influence, always divine, always benign, always embracing humanity with comfort and healing.
The time for the Comforter is our time. The place, wherever we find ourselves. And spiritual good, spiritual comfort, is no more confined just to our own individual consciousness than sunshine is confined just to our backyard; our prayers bless others as well.
Mary Baker Eddy, author of the Christian Science textbook, urged its readers: "Hold perpetually this thought, - that it is the spiritual idea, the Holy Ghost and Christ, which enables you to demonstrate, with scientific certainty, the rule of healing, based upon its divine Principle, Love, underlying, overlying, and encompassing all true being" ("Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," Pg. 496).
Beyond grieving and blaming, what do we find? That there is much we can do to help ourselves and others feel the power of Christ comforting and healing the world. It is the very Comforter Jesus promised that enables us to do so.