Deacon Paul and Helen McBlain, members of St. Joseph Parish in Collingdale, have been married more than 50 years and have seven children and 21 grandchildren.

She says:

Phyllis says: I have been very taken by the horror of the shooting at the concert in Las Vegas. I know that with modern communications there are nasty things on TV every day, but this really touched me.

Perhaps it is close to home because my sister lives in Las Vegas. She was not at the concert, nor was she harmed, but just having this happen in her area gave me a jolt. I asked my husband, Jim, why bad things happen to good people.

Neither Jim nor I have a deep religious bent. I am a Catholic, but do not really attend church every week. Jim is not a Catholic, but he is a good man and has been a great partner in my life. We are close and do discuss many issues.

I am so upset by the shootings that initially I could not pull myself away from the broadcasts. Now, if I see some story about a rescue or about someone staying with a person who died, I am glued to the TV.

My discomfort with this whole scene and my impressions of how positively some people responded to helping the wounded and giving blood, have made me wonder where our nation is going.

I can’t understand why Jim just shrugs me off when I try to talk to him about the horrors I see on television.

He says:

Jim says: I listen to the news daily, and daily I hear of events where one person shoots someone else. Not to be callous or anything, but I just see that as a part of society in which we live.

This does not affect me, unless, of course, the person getting shot is someone I know or worse yet, someone in my family or someone I really care for.

I don’t put too much faith in having a God. As far as religion is concerned, I wasn’t brought up with it. I think I turned out alright. Our kids are good kids. Oh, they can have their moments, but for the most part they are OK.

Why Phyllis got her nose bent out of joint over this particular shooting is beyond me. Why Phyllis cares for people she didn’t even know is peculiar. All that is important is our family … our kids and our parents.

Why bother with worrying about others when we have our own to provide for and take care of? “Am I my brother’s keeper?” (Genesis 4:9).

Now we are starting to have heated “discussions” over this whole thing, and I am afraid that it is beginning to intrude on our marriage relationship.

What should they do? 

Phyllis has basically described herself as a non-practicing Catholic and as someone who genuinely cares for others, even people she does not know. We live in an age where electronic media brings all sorts of “outside” information to our homes.  Somewhere in Phyllis’ background, the seed of caring for others, even those we do not know personally, was sown (hopefully in her Catholic upbringing).

Even though Phyllis does not regularly attend Mass on Sunday or pray daily or educate herself about her religion, that does not mean she has abandoned the principles of living that Jesus taught while on earth and that the church has continued to teach over 2,000 years.

Phyllis admires and was awed by the courage shown by many people helping others. Maybe in her own life, she subconsciously has the desire to connect to others to make the world a better place. Perhaps Phyllis could use this concern in her life as an opportunity to come back to praying for and maybe even volunteering to help people.

Phyllis, find yourself a women’s retreat or day of prayer and reflection to help you come back to your Catholic faith in a meaningful manner.

Jim has stated he isn’t into prayer or religion and that is just fine for him. He is quite content to just focus on his wife, his kids and people he personally knows.  There is no further need for his concern, especially with people who he doesn’t know.

Perhaps it is time for Jim to open his eyes and ears and mind to the world around him that was created by God: “God created man in his image, in the divine image he created him; male and female he created them. God blessed them saying: ‘Be fertile and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it’” (Genesis 1:27-28).

There are too many people like Jim in our world. They do not care, nor do they intend to be their brother’s keeper.

Well, Jim, you certainly are your brother’s keeper!

Two thousand years ago a smart-aleck like yourself, “an expert in the law,” questioned Jesus about the Ten Commandments, saying: “Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest? He said to him, you shall love the Lord your God, with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. The second is like it. You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 23:36-39).

Our church teaches that God and God alone will judge each person for the gifts they were given and for the way they used their gifts while on earth.

Does it take a horrific shooting incident to wake us up to the fact that we, as Children of God, should be going beyond ourselves to others, be it in prayer, in physical help or financial assistance? The response from this shooting has proven to be quite generous in financial, prayerful and hands-on assistance by many people.

Phyllis and Jim, sit down and read this to each other:

“Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience, bearing with one another and forgiving one another. If one has a grievance against another, as the Lord has forgiven you, so must you also do. And over all these put on love, that is, the bond of perfection. And let the peace of Christ control your hearts, the peace into which you were also called in one body. And be thankful” (Colossians 3: 12-15).