The Death of Bin Laden — May 3 — Sts. Philip and James

Osama Bin Laden has caused the deaths of countless people worldwide, he has spread hatred and division among peoples, and he has exploited religion for these purposes. He has done evil things, and now he is dead. How should we take this news? On Sunday night, some people celebrated in the streets of New York City and Washington, DC. Many people said with unrestrained delight that not a man, but a vermin, or a thing of pure evil, had been exterminated. But what is God’s opinion? What are His feelings on these events? God speaks to us in his words from Ezekiel 33:11: “Answer them: As I live, says the Lord God, I swear I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked man, but rather in the wicked man’s conversion, that he may live.” If God does not rejoice in the death of the wicked, then neither should we.

Our U.S. Special Forces’ successful mission in Abbottabad, Pakistan rightly pleases us in many ways, like in how this achievement may prevent future terrorist attacks or the fact that al-Qaeda is now deprived of their most charismatic leader, but a Christian should not rejoice in the death of a sinner. It should be noted here, that Jesus the Prince of Peace loves peace, but He is not a pacifist. (A pacifist is someone who condemns the use of force in all situations.) Recall that Jesus did not drive out the money-changers and animal-sellers from the temple solely by endlessly asking them nicely. “He made a whip out of cords and drove them all out of the temple area…” Force, even deadly force, is sometimes just and necessary, as I believe it was in Abbattabad this Sunday. And yet, even in wartime, we must not hate those who hate us, nor rejoice in the death of wrongdoers, not even when it’s Osama Bin Laden. The death of a sinner is a tragedy to the heart of Jesus, whose Divine Mercy and Love we celebrated on that same Sunday.

Perhaps someone might hear this and ask, “What difference does it make whether or not I hate Bin Laden or other people I’ve never met? Or what difference does it make whether or not I hate some of the people I actually know?” This is why it matters. You heard Jesus say to Thomas, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” No one comes to the Father, except through Him. Jesus is the way. He is our way to Heaven not just by our saying that He’s our Lord and Savior. Jesus is the way because He is the way we must become. No one comes to the Father in Heaven except they who conform themselves to the person of Jesus Christ. Therefore, if you die hating anyone in your heart, when you come to the gates of Heaven, whether the persons you hate are inside or not, you will not enter in; either you will be prevented from entering until your heart is cleaned to be like Christ’s, or you will never enter in, because you will have decided that you do not want Heaven’s ways, Heaven’s truths, or Heaven’s life.

You’re unlikely to hear the message of this homily said anywhere on TV. Imagine how the world would react if someone went on FOX News or CNN and suggested we shouldn’t hate Bin Laden. If you’ve heard anything like this homily since Sunday’s events, it was probably here at Columbus, through one of your teachers. What makes them different from the world is that they have been formed by the Gospel and a Catholic Christian worldview. Our Catholic Faith is the only thing that frees from the slavery of merely being a child of one’s time. It allows us to see the world more through Jesus’ eyes and to conform our hearts to His. This is important, because if you and I want to enter into Heaven someday, we must be converted into Him.

2 Responses to “The Death of Bin Laden — May 3 — Sts. Philip and James”

  1. pussywillowpress Says:

    Thank you, Father! This needed to be said.
    It’s been said that hatred is like an acid–it can do more damage to the vessel in which it is stored than to the object on which it is poured.

    My first thought when I heard the news was, “Lord, have mercy on this poor man’s soul!” Can you imagine being in his shoes right now, coming face to Face with Almighty God and having to answer for what he’s done?! He needs prayers…

  2. peddiebill Says:

    As a methodist I didnt necessarily expect to find myself agreeing with you. However I agree that needed to be said. It seems to me that the question which is still to be answered is in what way does this make us hate our perceived enemies less and how do they feel abiout us as a result of this action. I would have thought that the fact that bin Laden was shot when he was unarmed and his unarmed wife was wounded wont have helped. I would have thought that burying him at sea when it is clear to anyone who even knows a little about Islam that this is not a Muslim tradition will not have helped – and the fact that so few bothered to read the transcripts of interviews such as that of Robert Fisk with bin Laden means that it happened without even most trying to find out what he and his followers were on about. Since the US killed many more civilians in apparent revenge for 9-11 than bin Laden did with his sponsorship of terrorism, it isnt even clear cut that the US was right and al Qaeda is wrong. The real test will be if the violence ramps up or dies down as a result. I wont hold my breath.

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