Monday, May 02, 2011

Little Cause to Rejoice

The Lord delights not in the death of the wicked (Ez. 18:23, 33:11), not even in the likes of Osama bin Laden.

While it is understandable that some might rejoice at the news at the death of our enemy, who has the blood of thousands of our countrymen on his hands, and we might feel that a bit of human justice has been done, still better would have been that he had lived and repented, and the thousands who died at his hands had lived. Every death, even bin Laden's, is a tragedy; a necessary one in his case perhaps in order to save the lives of others, but a tragedy nonetheless.

But what has gone before is past, and cannot be undone. Even on September 12, 2001, what was more important was what would happen from there on out than what had happened the day before.

Sadly, it was clear in the days and weeks and months and years following September 11 that what the enemy wanted from there on out was war.

At 10 p.m. EDT Sunday evening, we were at war with "Islamic extremists." At 11 p.m. EDT Sunday evening, after news had broken of the death of bin Laden, we are still at war. And we will be at war tomorrow and the next day and the day after that.

Some may rejoice at his death, but it is cause for but a moment of celebration. In the grand scheme of things, it changes nothing. We realized in the aftermath of September 11 that they had actually been at war with us long before that horrific day. Indeed, they had been at war with us for about 1400 years. The death of bin Laden does not, in itself, usher in an era of peace.

Pray that we can have peace, real peace, that our enemy chooses not to be our enemy any more. Pray that they will choose authentic peace and freedom so that it will not be necessary for us to neutralize that enemy, even as we are called by Christ to love them.

Besides, today is not a day for reveling in death. Today, Divine Mercy Sunday and the day of the beatification of Blessed John Paul II, is a day to rejoice in life and the merciful love of God. Don't let some enemy evildoer like bin Laden spoil that. Celebrate life, not death.


Statement from Fr. Federico Lombardi, S.J., Director of the Holy See Press Office:
"Osama Bin Laden, as is known, claimed responsibility for grave acts that spread division and hate among the peoples, manipulating religion to that end. A Christian never takes pleasure from the fact of a man's death, but sees it as an opportunity to reflect on each person's responsibility, before God and humanity, and to hope and commit oneself to seeing that no event become another occasion to disseminate hate but rather to foster peace."


The question as been posed --
How does one pray for the soul of Osama bin Laden?

How to pray for the likes of Osama bin Laden?

Perhaps we might start with remembering Jesus’ words to “love thy enemy,” and ask for the grace to let go of any hate and anger toward bin Laden, the grace to not delight in the death of a child of God, even while we might desire justice and be thankful that the danger he presented is no longer present, and the grace to begin to do what Jesus asks of us, to love even the enemy bin Laden.

And, as part of that love of one’s enemy, perhaps we might pray that God remember that, despite whatever evils he might have done and did do, he still is a child of God, and that God’s will be done, such that if it is God’s will to forgive bin Laden and take him into heaven (which would imply that bin Laden had repented of any mortal sin and accepted such forgiveness and redemption), so be it.

Remember that Moses prayed even for Pharaoh. That Pharaoh tried to play games with God and got the major smackdown as a result, well, that was between Pharaoh and God. So, pray for the forgiveness of bin Laden, if it be His will, and if bin Laden prefers the Islamic “paradise” of 72 virgins and little boys instead, then that is between him and the One true God.

As for praying for the dead generally — why should God bother to remember the dead if no one else will?

Is that really our answer — “it’s not my job” to remember the dead, its God’s job, and we will instead confine ourselves to praying only for the living? And if we refuse to pray for others who are dead, why should someone like Jesus pray for us to the Father when we have died?

The work of salvation is NOT limited to Jesus and the Father and the Holy Spirit. Although Jesus is the one and only Savior, He has very explicitly asked us to help Him in the work of salvation. Part of helping Him is to love others, including praying for them, putting in a couple of good words on their behalf, when they go up before The Judge.

If we have nothing good to say about the dead, why should He who judges them give them a good result? Because “that’s His job”? No — it is not right that we put all the work and burden on Jesus. He’s got enough to do as it is. So say a couple of kind words to God about the dead, let’s not be so miserly in our love for our fellow children of God.

One might also reflect upon the words of the Divine Mercy prayers, as well as –

“O my Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of hell, lead all souls to heaven, especially those in most need of thy mercy.”

If we were to be so presumptuous to judge bin Laden’s soul (which is NOT our job), we might conclude that he is among those “most in need” of Christ’s mercy. So, in saying this common prayer, we are already praying for the likes of bin Laden.


Jan said...

Although I haven't actually looked too hard, I don't imagine anyone is dancing in the streets over this death?

While it's true that it would have been preferable (for him) for Osama to live and repent, there was in actuality about as much chance of that happening as there is you or I becoming a Muslim.

A commenter at another blog likened this to putting down a rabid animal. My own bias regarding capital punishment and the assassination of enemies of the United States aside, I think the deliberate taking of the life of that man was just and right. I don't think there was a way to apprehend him and hold him without enormous bloodshed - and even had that happened, would his conversion of heart been worth countless lost lives? No.

You are correct - we are still at war - but any respite that can be gained from removing the "face" of the hatred and perhaps causing a bit of a shake-up among those who followed him, can only be a good thing.

Bender said...

I've seen them dancing in the streets (including outside the White House).

I've also seen plenty of people say that now we should get out of Afghanistan and run away and pretend that the enemy no longer exists.

The one is unseemly, the other foolish.

Jan said...

Well that's what I get for not watching tv.

The few images I've seen on the internet show a group of what appears to be college kids acting like they just won their homecoming game. Of course that's unseemly.

It's also nothing less than what I'd expect from college students.