Bishop Scott Mayer has issued this statement in the wake of the mass shooting in Odessa.
And now I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. (John 13:34).
The first words of Odessa Medical Center Hospital CEO Russell Tippin at the news briefing in the aftermath of the mass shooting in Odessa that left five dead and 21 wounded were about love. He asked everyone in the sound of his voice to “grasp on to your loved ones, hold on to them, because nobody is guaranteed tomorrow.”
The news of the shootings came exactly four weeks after the shootings in El Paso that left 22 dead and more than two dozen wounded. Those victims were out shopping at Walmart; these were driving on a highway, and in a shopping mall and movie theater.
As the now all-too-familiar news coverage of yet another mass shooting began scrolling across the screens of TVs and phones and computers, an almost palpable wave of “Not again! Not here!” rolled across West Texas. These highway numbers and street names are very familiar ones, places we’ve been, places we’ve spent time. The people in these news reports – the dead, the wounded, those in lockdown in their homes, the first responders, the news reporters – are literally our neighbors.
Finally news came that the shooter, a white male in this mid-30s, had been killed by law enforcement officers. But the relief that the active shooting was over was brief. Three law enforcement officers are among the wounded.
Now we turn to comforting the grieving, to helping the wounded and brokenhearted, to soothing the traumatized and to dealing with righteous anger. For anger is a reasonable reaction to such violence.
Let us remember that we do not stand alone, that as we reach for one another, we already are reaching out for God, because there is nothing more holy than your neighbor.
And God reaches out to us, enveloping us in love and grace, endowing us with the strength and resiliency to cope with the immediate emergency, and then to find our way forward to a more violence-free and just future.
Let us pray.
Keep watch, dear Lord, with those who work, or watch, or weep this night, and give your angels charge over those who sleep. Tend the sick, Lord Christ; give rest to the weary, bless the dying, soothe the suffering, pity the afflicted, shield the joyous; and all for your love’s sake. Compline, Book of Common Prayer P.134