Wednesday, May 4, 2011

One Christian's Perspective on The Death of Bin Laden

I haven't blogged in a few weeks because I busy studying for a certification exam for my job. I have been looking forward to getting back into blogging, but I wasn't expecting Osama Bin Laden's death to be the first thing I would write about. However, since the news broke, I have been struggling with what the right response should be to his death. My initial gut reaction was to celebrate like so many did across our nation. On the other hand, I know as a Catholic, that we should not celebrate at the loss of any life. So this has caused me to reflect on what the right reaction to this event should be.

I came across two well written articles today that I feel best describes what the most appropriate Christian reaction would be to this whole affair.  The first piece is titled "Bin Laden died long ago" and is written by Presbyterian minister David Lewicki. The second is titled Osama Bin Laden! How Much Do You Love Your Enemies? and is a homily by Fr. Timothy Henderson. The main point of both was that we should follow the words of Christ to "love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us." This is a very radical way of thinking especially towards someone like Bin Laden. However isn't that what Christ calls us to do - live contrary to what the world is telling us to do?

As Fr. Henderson pointed out, this isn't about whether or not Bin Laden's killing was justified, but about how our reactions measure up to Christ's teachings. I'll leave you with a powerful excerpt from David Lewicki's post. Please read both articles above and take some time to reflect on the messages in each.
Beyond our feelings, Christians might also spend time considering our Lord’s call to love our enemies and to pray for those who persecute us. This is not easy. If we call ourselves Americans as well as Christians, we may feel a strong civic sense that what our government did in our name was the embodiment of public justice.
But our political identity and our identity as followers of Jesus are rarely reconcilable. Jesus did not meet enemies with violence. He asserted that the way to loose ourselves of our enemies was, counter-intuitively, by loving them and forgiving them — by wanting God’s best for them and believing in the Holy Spirit’s power to convert any person to faithful obedience. Jesus implied that if the Spirit does not convert them to goodness in this life, any judgment of their deeds is to be left in the hands of their creator — God alone. Our job is to never cease praying that they receive God’s blessing.
I have been praying for Osama bin Laden for 10 years. I was not surprised by news of his death. As I asked myself why, I suspect it is because, in my eyes, bin Laden died long ago. He died to goodness; he died to mercy; he died to peace. He died to the things that God cares most about. He was alive until this week — but he died to life a long time ago.

I have wondered over the years what God tried to do to win him back to love. I wonder about the confounding ability of human beings to resist the love of God. I wonder about these things for Osama bin Laden and I wonder about same things with respect to my own life. Today, as I have many days before, I pray for my enemy — I pray him into the hands of the God of justice and of mercy.

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