Hope Amidst Terror
London-based Archbishop Kevin Mcdonald responds to the recent Westminster terror attack and searches for signs of hope.
As I was preparing last week to go to Brentwood, the person who was giving me a lift phoned to say that we would be leaving early because of traffic problems following a terrorist attack.
It was the first I had heard of it and, as we drove to Brentwood, we listened to the radio as the events unfolded.
In the hours that followed, what struck me most was the sheer senselessness of it all. Nothing could possibly justify what happened. Nonetheless, it brought out the best in people in their sympathy, compassion and desire to help and heal.
We Are Together
It also bought the different faiths closer together, faiths that all recognise Abraham as their Father in Faith. Cardinal Vincent Nichols, together with other faith leaders, said: “They want to divide us. We are together - we stand together to show solidarity.”
Why do such things happen? I got some glimmerings of an answer to that question in the Gospel story about a man who, having been born blind, has his sight restored by Jesus.
The Pharisees, referring to this man born blind, ask Jesus: “Who sinned, this man or his father, for him to have been born blind?” To this, Jesus replied: “Neither he nor his father sinned. He was born blind so that the works of God might be shown in him.”
Faith And Hope
One might interpret those words as telling us that there is a bigger picture, a bigger narrative which is beyond the compass of human intelligence. Within that bigger picture, all pain and suffering finds its ultimate meaning in relation to the suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the central moment in human history.
Suffering and tragedy has a meaning, but it is a meaning that we can only grasp in faith. We cannot put it into words.
Faith is intimately connected with hope. A tragedy like this should trigger and nurture deeper hope.
As we journey towards Easter and follow in Christ’s footsteps to Calvary, let us be open to the Holy Spirit and seek the wisdom and understanding that will deepen our faith and strengthen our hope.
- Kevin McDonald is the Archbishop Emeritus of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Southwark.