Jesus' words as he wept over Jerusalem are probably more compelling today than ever: "If this day you only knew the ways that make for peace..." (Luke 19:42). Surely Jesus weeps today as he did then. He weeps over Jonesboro, Arkansas; over Pearl, Mississippi; over Paducah, Kentucky; over Springfield, Oregon; and every other school and playground where children are killed, especially by other children.
The circle of safety, love, and peace that once surrounded most children in this society has been broken. Children are no longer as safe at school, on the way to and from school, in their neighborhoods, and even at home. Jesus who so loved the children of his own time continues to love and mourn the children of our time. And he does so in a special way through parents, teachers, and all others who nurture children. While he needs our tears of mourning, he needs us even more to teach and live the ways that make for peace.
These shocking events should be a national wake-up call; they should serve as teachable moments to help young people cope with increasing social violence. The first level of response is within our own hearts and touches the hearts of our children. Its guiding principle reads: "In the face of escalating violence, escalate love." We can embrace our children, grandchildren, neighbors, and friends with unconditional love and respect. We can reach out to those kids who have been marginalized in any way, pull them in to the center of our homes and our schools, and let them know that they, too, are a gift from God. We can seek out mentors who can serve as their guardian angels.