I am grateful to all who have come together to pray tonight. In the face of tragedy we need each other. And in the face of violence we stand together because we cannot let hate and violence have the last word.
We gather from all faiths and walks of life. We pray and sing and listen to the Word of God to remind ourselves that amidst this tragedy God is with us. God cries with our tears, and as the Scripture you have heard tonight says “For I know the plans that I have for you,' declares the LORD, 'plans for wellbeing, and not for calamity, in order to give you a future and a hope. “ ( Jeremiah 29)
We come together in unity across our religious traditions, across race, across gender to stand with each other as living signs of that hope. I am struck by the signs of goodness even in the face of violence. I think about the first responders who risked their own lives to save the lives of others. I think of the emergency medical personnel and hospital staff members who answered the call for well-being and a future by using their skills to save lives. And, I am reminded that the many individuals, who rendered aid, gave rides and helped each other. They are living reminders of the Good Samaritan and God who calls us all from fear to care.
And tonight as we gather to pray for healing and unity in our community of Las Vegas, I am reminded of all the places throughout the world who suffer daily violence. We must find ways to work together to bring about healing in our world so that none of God’s children have to suffer what we have suffered.
We stand together tonight to witness that all humans are made in the image and likeness of God, and as God’s children they have their fundamental human dignity. In all that we do we need to remember that as our starting place. In a world that is increasingly polarized we need to be a countersign. Where there is hatred and violence we must be the sign of love and of peace. Where there is division and uncivil speech, we must stand together as a sign of unity. And where we stand in a world of despair, we must stand together as a sign of hope.
The summary of religious life we find in Scripture: Love the Lord your God with your whole heart, your whole mind and your whole soul and love your neighbor as yourself. How will we do that? It begins by gathering together in unity, prayer and love. And it continues in the actions of our everyday lives, not allowing ourselves to remain silent in the face of hate, not consenting by our apathy to the persecution of others, but working to know one another, to care for each other, and to show by our actions that we love each other.
Assuring you of my prayers, I remain
Most Reverend Joseph A. Pepe, D.D., J.C.D. Bishop of Las Vegas