Daily Reflection
of Creighton University's Online Ministries
June 14th, 2011
Ken Reed-Bouley

Center for Service and Justice
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Tuesday of the Eleventh Week in Ordinary Time
[366] 2 Corinthians 8:1-9
Psalm 146:2, 5-6ab, 6c-7, 8-9a
Matthew 5:43-48

“Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you . . . .” These instructions from Jesus are familiar to us as Christians. They are so familiar, in fact, that we probably either believe we follow them well-enough and don’t pay much attention to them or we place them into our personal “not to be taken literally” category. After all, Jesus could not have meant that we should love and pray for Idi Amin, Pol Pot, Adolph Hitler, or Osama bin Laden. Could he? Really?

After the death of Osama bin Laden on May 2, Fr. James Martin, S.J., challenged us to revisit this passage, describing it as “Jesus’s most difficult command”, in an article written for America Magazine entitled “The Christian Response To Bin Laden’s Death.” Fr. Martin was in New York on 9-11-01 and ministered to family members and first responders. He acknowledges the evil bin Laden did and questions whether he can/could forgive him despite Jesus’ related command to forgive “seventy times seven times”, without limit. Fr. Martin refers to the Vatican statement issued regarding bin Laden’s death “which balances the desire for an end to terror with the sanctity of life, no matter how odious the person”.

Fr. Martin ends his article as follows: “Osama bin Laden was responsible for the murder of thousands of men and women in the United States, for the deaths and misery of millions across the world, and for the death of many servicemen and women, who made the supreme sacrifice of their lives. I am glad he has left the world. And I pray that his departure may lead to peace.

“But as a Christian, I am asked to pray for him and, at some point, forgive him. And that command comes to us from Jesus, a man who was beaten, tortured and killed. That command comes from a man who knows a great deal about suffering. It also comes from God.”

Perhaps we can put aside for the moment the perpetrators of 9/11 and think about who else in our lives we have found difficult to love, pray for, and forgive. Perhaps we can start there.

Dear God, please help us to learn how to become ever more loving and forgiving, both when it is enjoyable and easy as well as when it is painful and seems impossible. Amen.

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