Teenager Thomas Kelly was walking along a King's Cross street on Saturday night, July 7, when he was king hit by an unknown assailant. This single random punch put Thomas in hospital where he subsequently died two days later, when his parents made the gut wrenching decision to turn off his life support. The assault was only one in a series of violent and as yet unexplained attacks on people on that night in perhaps Sydney's most famous night time entertainment district. Police allege that the offender, who is now in custody, spent an hour roaming around King's Cross bashing three other people besides Thomas. Parents like myself, cry for Mr and Mrs Kelly, and for their loss, and we think about all the times our children, regardless of their age, have risked death or injury simply by living. Life is risky business. At any time, in any place, we and our loved ones may be subject to violent misadventure. Driving our cars, walking along footpaths, sitting in our homes or places of work, surrounded by crowds or alone. The tragedy of Thomas Kelly screams a warning about our vulnerability.
Many questions arise in my mind and no doubt in yours as well, but the most troubling one is why? As yet, we do not know anything about motive, or whether the perpetrator was loaded with alcohol or fueled by illicit drugs. We only know that four people were assaulted and one died. It defies belief that the victims were chosen for any particular reason, although it is possible, so why those four out of the hundreds of others who were there, and why did Thomas die? News overnight has come in about a shooting at a cinema in Denver. The same questions explode in our minds: why? We will most likely find out why the gunman did it, but will we ever know why, of the hundreds of people at the cinema, those 12 were killed and another "unlucky" 59 were injured. Why those people? Movie goers were enjoying the premiere of the latest Batman film when their lives were taken, when their sense of security and safety was stolen. Life is risky business.
In this broken world, sin reigns and none of us are innocent. The fragility of our lives means we are under constant threat from physical, emotional and psychological trauma. Suffering is an unavoidable part of life, and living is an inescapable part of life. We cannot simply lock ourselves away and hide from the frightening uncertainty outside our doors. We must have faith and exercise it, as we confidently and hopefully live rather than hide, or merely exist. In the end hope is all we have, because although we can control some things in our lives, we are not the masters of our own destinies. Thomas Kelly's death proves that. In whom then or in what do we hope? May I suggest that if your hope is not in God then it is misplaced.