This past week we heard the news that Osama Bin Laden was killed. President Obama announced that “it was a good day for America” and that it goes to show “that there is nothing we can’t do”. We have known Obama as a great orator but these words of his disappointed. They diminished rather than enlarged our common humanity. They added to the inappropriate gloating that took place outside the White House and Ground-Zero. Bin Laden’s killing — like all killing — is a tragedy that grieves God the creator and lover of us all.
In the Gospels Jesus says that Satan cannot cast out Satan. Equally, violence cannot cast out violence or killing cast out killing. Violence and killing beget more of the same. This tragic truth stains much of our human history. When will we stop doing to others as they have done to us? When will we take Jesus at His Word — and begin to love our enemies in the very least by refusing to kill them? If there was one thing Jesus was very clear about — in word and in deed — it was that we are called to love our enemies.
In reminding his congregation of this, St. Augustine proclaimed in a sermon: “Let your desire for him [your enemy] be that together with you he may have eternal life: let your desire for him be that he may be your brother. And if that is what you desire in loving your enemy (that he may be your brother) when you love him, you love a brother. You love in him, not what he is, but what you would have him be.” (Augustine, Eighth Homily, in Homilies on the First Epistle of St John).
God, encourage us to extend the circle of our love to include our enemies.
Sunday 8 May 2011