In the movie, Minority Report, Tom Cruise plays a detective whose job is to stop murders before they actually occur. He, therefore, examines footage that is seen by three nude persons lying in a chemical pool. From the footage, he puts together how the crime will happen in the future and then sends out his unit to stop it. One of the things that fascinate me about this movie is that it attempts to resolve a problem that has with us since the beginning of time: the prevention of tragedies.
On April 19, 2007, Seung Hui Cho gunned down 32 people at Virginia Tech before turning the gun on himself. In the days and weeks that followed, the media and the rest of the world wondered how such a tragedy could be prevented. Cho’s life was examined by numerous journalists and psychologists looking for anything that could lead them to why he had committed such a senseless murder. At the end of the day, several different factors came out including the possibility that Cho was mentally ill, that he had been mercilessly bullied, and that these two factors combined to create an explosive personality and that eventually erupted and took the lives of many innocent people.
In looking at these factors, one wonders if anything could have been done to prevent this tragedy from occurring. If Tom Cruise and his minions had been around at Virginia Tech, then Cho would have been sent to an institution or jailed. But that kind of pre-crime technology does not exist in our day and age. In a way, though, the Virginia Tech administration was also responsible for the crimes. By not putting the future culprit in a mental institution, they put a ticking time bomb in the middle of the campus that was waiting to explode. By professors not being more diligent by monitoring his behavior, the tragedy could also have been prevented.
Yet it seems to me that one of the exacerbating factors that led Cho to murder so many was the lack of something elemental and necessary: love. If Cho had not been so thoroughly by rejected by the society and people with whom he lived, he would not have acted in this way. I know of many people like Cho, who have been mercilessly bullied at school for days and years on end. What prevented those persons from murder was the fact that they had other outlets and people who loved them. Many of them found solace in religion and turned to God. Others found the love absent at school in their families and friends. Yet wherever it was they found it, love was there in the midst.
Our Lord once said that the love of many would grow cold in the latter days. It seems to me that every day, we are forgetting more and more what it means to love one another. Many of us lead extremely selfish lives in which God is the last thing on our minds. We treat each other like dirt. We walk all over other people and back bite them because we do not like them or we cannot bear their presence. We bully each other only because we are afraid of being bullied ourselves. Indeed, every office and job has its bullies as do many families.
Yet if we loved one another sincerely as God loves us, then our lives would change for the better. When St. Francis was riding out on a road near Assisi, he saw a leper that was coming towards him. The sight of the leper caused Francis to recoil and his horse to act wildly because of the smell. Yet Francis overcame himself, jumped down from the horse, and handed the leper his money. Not only this, but St. Francis embraced him because he saw in him the image of God. This conversion experience exerted such a powerful hold on Francis that he went out to the leper colonies near Assisi and visited the unfortunate. He bound their sores, he made their beds, and he gave them money. In turn, the lepers were thankful that someone looked at them and helped to survive.
St. Aloysius Gonzaga is also an example of that same selfless love. One day, when he was walking through the streets of Rome and ministering to the sick, he saw a man that was dying along the road. Without asking questions, Aloysius lifted him on his back and took him all the way to a hospital that was being run by Jesuit seminarians. Without fearing that he could die by exposing himself to the man’s disease, Aloysius was ready and willing to help him when so many passed the man by. Like St. Francis, Aloysius saw in the dying man Christ Himself.
Like St. Francis and St. Aloysius, we are asked to see Christ in those around us. In our own family members, our parish family, and the people that we see every day, we must learn to love and see Christ in them. It is difficult for us to see Christ in the people at the bus station who curse and swear, homeless people that lie on the benches in our parks, or those cantankerous family members that nobody can stand during the holidays. Yet it is our duty to love them because they bear in themselves the image and likeness of God.
The reason why so many people turn to violence in our society is because they have not been shown God’s love by their families or communities. In many cases, these people are the victims of abuse and carry wounds that cannot heal. I’m sure that some of you know people like this. There are probably some among your relatives and friends or near acquaintances. Do not think that because they bear such great wounds that you cannot help them, it is your duty from God to do so. When they cry out in pain and anger, you can be there to heal their wounds and help them. Like St. Francis, you can carry them embrace and tell them that God loves them regardless of what has happened in their lives before. Like St. Aloysius, you can carry them to someone that needs them and loves them.
By seeing Christ in other people, especially those that are suffering, we open ourselves to Our Lord Himself. When we open ourselves to Him and show His love towards others, He rewards us also. St. Francis embraced one leper and the course of his life was turned around. St. Aloysius helped a dying man and showed the world that his holiness was not merely made up of good words, but also of actions. It is for this that we must strive for above all: actions that show Christ’s love to every human being that we come in contact with no matter how abandoned, poor, or helpless. Everyone not just our relatives or fellow religious need to feel His love.
Today, let us think and meditate on how we can help those around us that are in the greatest need of Christ’s love. What is it that we can do in order to change their lives and make them better? What can we do to ease the sufferings of the lonely who have nowhere else to turn? What can we do for the sick, the dying, and the mentally ill?
Our Lady of the Angels, pray for us!
St. Francis of Assisi, pray for us!
St. Aloysius Gonzaga, pray for us!