This morning, Australia woke up to the news that the Hostage Crisis in Martin Place, Sydney was over.
Two hostages, Tori Johnson, the cafe manager at Lindt and Katrina Dawson, a barrister, were dead along with the gunman, Man Haron Monis. Monis was an Iranian cleric on bail, charged being an accessory to the murder of his wife and over 40 counts of sexual assault. The other hostages had, mercifully, managed to escape when police entered the building after hearing gunshots at 2am, Sydney time.
My heart is so heavy right now. Like many others, I am grieving for those lost and everyone involved in this tragedy. But at the same time, I am also thankful.
I am thankful that most of the hostages escaped and that more lives were not lost. This situation could have been so much worse and every life saved is so precious. They included a 75-year-old woman, two pregnant women, and several students.
I am thankful for the courage and professionalism of our police force. They are fantastic men and women and every Australian can be proud of them today. Yesterday, I was sure that the hostage crisis would end peacefully because that’s how much I trust these brave officers. On Friday, I’ll be taking the time to thank our police for their work. Will you join me?
I am thankful for the lives of those lost to us, for Tori Johnson and Katrina Dawson. Eternal rest, grant unto them O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May they rest in peace. Amen. As Archbishop Anthony Fisher explained in his homily today,
Reports have emerged this morning of the heroism of the male victim of the siege. Apparently seeing an opportunity, Tori grabbed the gun. Tragically it went off killing him, but it triggered the response of the police and eventual freedom for most of the hostages. Reports have also emerged that Katrina Dawson was shielding her pregnant friend from gunfire. These heroes were willing to lay down their lives so others might live, imitating the sacrifice of Christ who said that there is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for each other (Jn 15:13).
I am thankful for the response of Sydneysiders who have not only poured out our love and support for the hostages and their families but also for the Muslim community. #Illridewithyou trended across the world as Australians promised to ride with any Muslim who were afraid of riding on public transport because of any backlash.
I am thankful that people are taking the time to be a bit kinder to each at the moment. I am thankful for the prayers and messages across social media and more importantly, that are in people’s’ hearts right now. I am thankful for a friend who urged us all to pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet and for every friend who responded to this violence with Christ’s words to love our enemy.
I am thankful that we live in a beautiful city where this kind of thing is so shocking precisely because it’s so rare.
I am thankful that in the midst of suffering and grief, the Light shines in the darkness. And the darkness cannot overcome it. (John 1:5) It is only nine days to Christmas. Then, we will celebrate the incarnation of God Himself in human flesh. He is Emmanuel. He is the prince of peace. He is the Christ, the one anointed to proclaim release to the captives and liberty to all those who are oppressed.
He is the Saviour of the World and by peace, He has overcome the world.