Jesus Christ’s triumph over death, despair and hate should move us forward after a deadly attack on law enforcement officers in Baton Rouge, the city’s bishop said Sunday.
“Words cannot express the emotions we feel for those who have lost loved ones in the tragic events of this day. Their entire lives have been unexpectedly and terribly turned upside down,” Bishop Robert Muench of Baton Rouge said.
On July 17, a gunman identified as Gavin Long of Kansas City, Mo. ambushed and killed two police officers and a deputy, while wounding three more, CNN reports. The officers were responded to reports of shots fired. Long, a former Marine sergeant, was killed in a gun battle with police.
The FBI is investigating Long’s possible links to an anti-government group. The gunman claimed to be a member of the Nation of Islam, though an official told CNN that there is no indication he was directed by the group.
The shooting comes on the heels of two weeks of heightened tensions across the country.
On July 5, Alton Sterling, a 37-year-old black man, was shot and killed by police in Baton Rouge. He had been selling CDs outside a convenience store when a homeless man approached him and asked for money persistently. Sterling showed the man his gun and asked him to leave him alone, according to CNN. The homeless man then called 911 and said Sterling had been brandishing a gun.
The next day, 32-year-old Philando Castile, an African American man in Falcon Heights, Minnesota, was shot four times by a police officer and later died, after being pulled over for an alleged broken tail light.
In both cases, videos of the encounter with police or its aftermath surfaced online, reigniting racial tensions that had already been smoldering in some parts of the country. Protests were held in numerous cities, many linked to the Black Lives Matter movement.
On July 7, five Dallas police officers were killed in what authorities called a “sniper ambush” at the end of one of these peaceful protests.
The latest shooting brings with it a new wave of shock, horror and grief, Bishop Muench said Sunday.
Bishop Muench and diocese vicar general Father Tom Ranzino visited two of the families affected by the shootings. They prayed and offered support.
The bishop reflected on a faithful response to the attack.
“Prayer is a powerful path to follow when tragedy happens, but even the most devout of us sometime question: ‘What good could come of this?’” he said.
“Only the Word of God has the answer to the questions that shake our faith: The answer is our Lord Jesus Christ. In Jesus, hope ultimately triumphs over despair; love ultimately triumphs over hate; and resurrection ultimately triumphs over death,” Bishop Muench said.
The Bishop of Baton Rouge cited two of the Beatitudes from the Sermon on the Mount: “Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called ‘children of God’” and “Blessed are they who mourn, for they will be comforted.”
Bishop Muench renewed his previous call for prayer and fasting across the diocese.
Last week, in response to the violence against both African-American men and police officers, the bishop had asked members of the diocese to fast and pray, “so that we may gain wisdom and courage to become personally and communally involved in building bridges across everything that divides us to become better brothers and sisters to each other.”