Who cannot be saddened and sickened by the shooting of Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and seventeen others, including six who died, among whom was a nine year-old girl? Yet, we so quickly seek the source of blame. We announce our findings. We accuse others or inadequate policies. We provide solutions that can be implemented. Then we argue about them for a time and move on. These events, however, invite us to ask profound questions, such as why such a thing should have happened in the first place, or to ask questions regarding the meaning of justice and evil.
We all thirst for love and truth, for goodness and fulfillment, and the shootings in Tucson outrage us for they contradict these desires. Yet, despite our thirst, evil dwells in all of us. This dramatic event is a reminder of the wound that affects each and every one of us, a reminder of our own evil.
We desire justice, and yet human justice is so limited in front of evil: it possesses so little power to restore the good destroyed by it. No one can give back the lives of those killed. No policy can resurrect a nine year-old girl. There is only One who possesses the power to restore all the good destroyed and he ardently desires to use it: God. “Man […] needs an answer that he himself cannot give,” as Pope Benedict states in his most recent book.
What is needed on our part? That our thirst for happiness become a simple acceptance of the gift of His presence among us. A real conversion is needed, and “Part of this conversion is putting God in the first place again. […] We must, so to speak, dare again the experiment with God—so as to allow him to work within our society.”(Benedict XVI)
We offer the words of Pope Benedict in his homily on Christmas Eve as the most adequate statement on such a tragedy, particularly pained by the suffering of the families of those who died or were wounded:
"God has anticipated us with the gift of his Son. God anticipates us again and again in unexpected ways. He does not cease to search for us, to raise us up as often as we might need. He does not abandon the lost sheep in the wilderness into which it had strayed. God does not allow himself to be confounded by our sin. Again and again he begins afresh with us. But he is still waiting for us to join him in love. He loves us, so that we too may become people who love, so that there may be peace on earth."