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A prayer for these days of wanton violence

South Africa


A prayer for these days of wanton violence

(Photo: Shaun Cozett)

On November 2, seven people were killed and two injured in a shooting in Gugulethu. Another person died a day later. The shooting was believed to be linked to the Boko Haram gang, which released a video in which they warned that this shooting was just the beginning. A silent vigil was held on the steps of St George’s Cathedral in Cape Town on Sunday night for the victims of violence, and this prayer by the US Jesuit priest James Martin is appropriate for these times.

I am angry at the seeming powerlessness of our community to prevent this.

I’m angry at the selfish financial interests who block change. 

I’m angry that these shootings happen at all. 

But I know that this anger is your anger. It’s the same anger Jesus felt when he overturned the tables in the Temple, angry that anyone would be taken advantage of in any way.

Help me see in these emotions your own desire for change. Help me see in these feelings your moving me to act.

Help me see in these reactions your pushing me to do something.

Because I know this is the way you move people to action. And I know that you desire action.

For Jesus did not stand by while people were being hurt. He plunged into their lives.

So help me to answer these questions: How can I help? How can I fight against gun violence?

How can I urge my political leaders to enact change? How can I help people understand that this is an issue about life?

I am sad over the loss of life, tired of excuses for the loss of life, and angry that we are paralysed by the loss of life.

So, turn my sadness into compassion. Turn my tiredness into advocacy. Turn my paralysis into the freedom to act.

Help me to be compassionate, to advocate and to act, as your son did,

Almighty God. DM

James Martin is a US Jesuit priest.


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All Comments 2

  • Sam, it is clearly your choice whether to believe in God or not. Father James Martin et al. are merely seeking guidance as to how they may be able to contribute in some way to avoid such atrocities being repeated. I suggest that silent respect for these well intentioned people rather than your snide comment would be more appropriate.

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