Why do the righteous suffer? Why do bad things happen to good people?
US Ambassador to Singapore David Isaac Adelman asked these questions during an interfaith prayer cum condolence event for those affected by the shooting tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
“Each religion represented here struggles with that very question,” said Mr Adelman, in his address during the Dec 21 event organised by the Inter-Religious Organisation (IRO) Singapore.
Quoting from the Book of Job, he noted that at the end, Job was “rewarded for his unbroken faith and understanding that even in all of suffering, there is a greater lesson ultimately, a greater strength delivered in faith in God and religion”.
“It is that strength and that faith that you all bring here today in support of all the children of the world and standing with Americans who are suffering especially those in that small town,” he said.
Representatives of 10 religions – Hinduism, Judaism, Zoroastrianism, Buddhism, Taoism, Jainism, Christianity, Islam, Sikhism and the Baha’i faith – attended the event. They held a minute of silence and prayed for the deceased and their families.
Canossian Sr Theresa Seow and other Catholic Religious also participated in the event.
Mr Adelman thanked the IRO for its efforts “in bringing us together today and continuing to bring us together as a community here in Singapore with interreligious and multi-faith communities all over the world”.
The ceremony saw four primary school pupils from CHIJ Our Lady of Good Counsel present drawings to Mr Adelman as a form of condolence and support. Mr Adelman said he would have them passed to the affected community of Newtown.
IRO president, Infant Jesus Sr Maria Lau, said in her address that in the face of the US school tragedy, “we turn to Almighty God, the Master of life and beg of Him to reach out in compassion to each bereaved family, to each pupil of the school and to the people of America especially”.
“We beg in faith that He may give them peace and comfort in this great loss. We pray too for the victims of this tragedy that they may rest in peace.”
Sr Maria commended the bravery of those who sacrificed their lives to protect the children and invoked God’s blessings on them. “Such heroism inspires us. They embody the true human spirit,” she said.
The nun also reiterated that religion is a force for good. “As people of religion, we constantly strive for peace. Recognising that there are people who make choices that may have a detrimental effect on others, it is imperative that the work to promote harmony and peaceful ways in society never ceases.”
Mr Masagos Zulkifli Bin Masagos Mohamad, Senior Minister of State, Ministry of Home Affairs and Ministry of Foreign Affairs, also attended the event.
The Dec 14 shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, left 20 children and six teachers dead. The gunman’s mother was also shot and killed prior to the massacre. The gunman, Adam Lanza, later turned the weapon on himself.
By Darren Boon