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To pray for a terrorist

May 2, 2011

As I settled down for the evening after coming home from a family dinner, I noticed tweets declaring Osama bin Laden is dead. I thought it was a joke.  But then major news sources said the same thing. My thoughts raced before me, stampeding like horses trying to make sense of reality. The memories of September 11, 2001 started resurfacing.

I was a sophomore in high school in the orchestra room preparing for a recital the day terrorists decided to take 3,000 human lives. I think we were practicing the piece La Folia. We abruptly stopped when a friend of mine told us to turn on the T.V. There we were, all four of us huddled together, watching footages of the first and then the second plane crashing into Twin Towers of the World Trade Center. People were running everywhere, shouting and crying for help.  It looked like the world was ending.

My friends and I couldn’t make any sense of it. We were too paralyzed to play any music that day.

September 11, 2001: Twin Towers of World Trade Center; plane about to hit second tower. Source: unknown

Now, ten years later, Osama bin Laden has been assassinated in Pakistan by the hands of small, specialized American military forces.  I’m not quite happy that he’s gone. His death makes him a martyr to radical Muslims to such groups as Al Qaeda, Hamas, and the Muslim Brotherhood. Christians, especially in Pakistan and other Middle East countries may experience an increase of violence in retaliation of  his death. My fallen self wants to scream to the ends of the Earth that  bin Laden, that dirty coward who went into hiding and who declared the fall of Western civilization if it did not convert to Islam, is finally going to Hell.

But the love of Christ disarms me. He teaches us to pray, love and to forgive our enemies (cf. Matthew 18:21, cf. Luke 6:27-28). When one of his disciples asks how many times one must forgive another, Christ replies, “If your brother or sister sins against you, rebuke them; and if they repent, forgive them.  Even if they sin against you seven times in a day and seven times come back to you saying ‘I repent,’ you must forgive them.” (Luke 17:3-4)

Forgiveness is not a one way street. I must forgive others in order that I may be forgiven. The Our Father prayer Christ taught to his disciples clearly demonstrates forgiveness as a symbiotic relationship between the self and others, with God in the center: “…And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.” Christ’s love is infinite and grand that my human mind cannot comprehend its depths. Surely He gives mercy to those that desire his love.

How can I forgive and pray for a terrorist who killed 3,000 Americans?

Only by the grace of the Holy Spirit.

One Comment leave one →
  1. May 21, 2011 10:39 pm

    “How can I forgive and pray for a terrorist who killed 3,000 Americans?

    Only by the grace of the Holy Spirit.”


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