America and The Death of Osama Bin Laden: A Franciscan Perspective - How Should American Christians React?
Osama Bin Laden
Reflection On A Letter From Holy Name Province Friars
How many of us would like to see our enemy humiliated in public? Or felt like you would throw the first stone if the person responsible for your failed marriage was caught in the adulterous act, if only our law permitted it?
The death of an enemy may bring a sense of relief and gladness. Vengeance may elicit feelings of joy, the satisfaction of pay-back and a balanced plate. But those of us who have lost loved ones from violent crimes know that the "concept of closure" after the death of the offender or enemy (whichever way that death comes), is an illusion. There is no such thing as absolute closure.
Therefore, a deeper search and understanding or reflection is an absolute necessity. Here are some reflections from the Franciscan Friars' perspective in the death of Osama Bin Laden (America's Most Wanted Terrorist).
The death of Osama Bin Laden might have come as an electrifying newsbreak, gripping the attention of the nation and the world, occassioning powerful emotional reactions, and most of them conflicted. Thus, inviting us to stand and reflect prayerfully and deeply on what God might be inviting us to in the wake of this death.
Many people's first reaction might be that of a sense of relief. The horrible attacks of September 11, 2001 are still very fresh and may perhaps never vanish from our memories as a nation or as individuals. These images reveal not only the embedded anger, but also fear and unease about the fragility of life itself. The Franciscan Friars lost one of their own, Mychal Judge, OFM; adding on to the number of thousands who lost their loved ones in the attacks.
It is understandable that the loss has brought untold misery and suffering, and has greatly changed the way we live in America. We will probably never return to the carefree lifestyle for fear of being attacked again. The letter says Osama Bin Laden became the embodiment of our fears. Thus, the announcement of his death may have produced a dimension of cathartic release - a sense or some semblance or level of hope, that things may after all be better. "This release, it says, may have expressed itself initially as joy."
But being Christians, and honest about our faith as Christians, we quickly become uncomfortable with the idea of joy (or celebrating) that come from the death of another human being - even our enemy (more so for one who has been killed by another), the letter states. "Isn't this discomfort a sting to our conscience reminding us as Christians, that we are called to something more?"
We should be reminded that all good things that we hope for including overcoming and triumphing over death itself, are possible through the love and mercy of God. Christ's words to his disciples of "peace be with you" urge us to remember that even "as evil as the actions of Osama Bin Laden were, he was still a beloved child of God. YES! While God would (obviously) not condone such evil actions as those of Osama Bin Laden were, God's love for Osama was never withdrawn." God sought to have fellowship with him as well.
This sobering gospel truth must reinvigorate our mission to resolve conflict at all levels - personal, social and political. The letter makes a critical point that the killing of Osama means there is no longer opportunity, at least in this life and in his case, to reconcile with an "enemy."
As Christians, our reaction to anything must come only after a careful reflection of our lives and what the word of God says about the situation. Although it is human to feel angry and to be happy that your adversary has paid the price, your personal health and inner peace are so critical to your entire well being.
We are called to do everything in our own strength to try and make peace with those we are in conflict with. A deeper call to tolerance and interfaith coexistence and support. This is not about whether what happened to Osama Bin Laden was wrong or not, but to reflect on our inner response to the cause of Christ and our faith in him. For Christ died that we may be reconciled with God and with one another. For "through your love, they will know that you are my disciples."
We are admonished in God's Word (Bible) “Do not rejoice when your enemy falls, and do not let your heart be glad when he stumbles; or the LORD will see it and be displeased. ” (Proverbs 24:17-18a). It is for our own good.
for a full letter from the HNP see http://www.hnp.org/publications/hnp_today_view.cfm?iid=174&aid=3659