Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Gospel of John and Osama Bin Laden

When the news of the death of Osama Bin Laden broke, I was contacted by two radio talk show hosts and a TV reporter wondering if I would like to comment. In the days of yore, I had worked with all three and all three knew of our family loss at the WTC on 9/11. I declined all three. If I had accepted, chances are I would have spoken from today's Gospel.

God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not be lost but may have eternal life. For God sent his Son into the world not to condemn the world, but so that the world might be saved. John 3:16-17.

As a disciple of Christ, my life is given to his work. It is the work of bringing people into the light, not condemning them to the darkness. Osama Bin Laden was always easy to condemn into the darkness. On this issue, it is easier to go with the Philadelphia headline "Got the Bastard," then it is to follow the words of Christ. But I'm going with Christ. This is, as best we know, a lost soul. Nothing to cheer about. That's not what we do.

This is no way a defense of the man. He chose to live in the darkness. Any condemnation comes not from God but from his own choosing, just like the rest of us. He got what he chose, life in the darkness.

When Christ wept for Lazarus, I'm betting he wept for Bin Laden and people like him as well as for all of us who ultimately face death. I bet he wept for them because of the terrible pain caused by their own choice to remain in the darkness. Do I feel a change now that my brother's murderer has been found? Yes, but it's not that false "closure" stuff, but rather a deeper look at my own life and the light and darkness within.


  1. Oh my - this is so moving and so beautiful. My prayers for your loss and my heart for how you can reframe tragedy into the Light of Christ... without forgetting the darkness that is there but that never triumphs.

  2. Thank you for these powerful words...Personally relevant for me as I speak out about a notorious pedophile priest who found refuge at Dignity Dayton, where I served as a priest last year, after losing his official RC ministry and the other priests and lay leaders who hid this from the community. My constant prayer is for purification and conversion of my own heart and true charity for all involved--especially my brother priests and the Protestant pastor who abused me as a young adult at a Jesuit university--which of course involves inviting them to come into the light through true and full repentance and healing. Prayers for your ministry and healing process are offered and yours for mine would be gratefully appreciated.

  3. Beautiful. I will keep you in my prayers as you approach your ordination.

  4. Bravo. I so agree with you. I am so glad you wrote this post. Everything else feels so distasteful. I admire you for it, since you have lost family members on 9/11. Thank you. Many more blessings on your journey.

  5. Praying for you and your family these days. A beautiful and honest reflection. Thanks, MH