Robert Adragna

Responding to terror and tragedy

By  Robert Adragna, Youth Speak News
  • April 7, 2016

It is often difficult to see Jesus’ light permeate through all human beings. This is especially true when we look at the horrific cruelty and violent terrorism around the world, especially in the Middle East. 

Ancient, prosperous towns and cities have been hastily abandoned as invaders arrive to conquer under the flag of violence and subjugation. Those who were lucky enough to escape face the terrifying process of becoming refugees, while those who remain faced unspeakable cruelty and horror from their conquering warlords. 

In the midst of our horror, it is extremely easy to become enraged at the people who perpetrate such evil. The terrorists become surrogates for the evil that they do. Thus, our rage against evil extends to encompass rage against them as human beings. Our angerenables us to justify vindication and hatred. But, it is this line of thinking that allows people to seriously consider “bomb the hell out of them,” in the words of U.S. presidential hopeful Donald Trump. 

Responding to evil with evil is never the Catholic response to tragedy.

In Matthew 5:44, Jesus calls us to respond to evil in our world with a spirit of goodness and compassion. He says, “But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.” 

This message of unequivocal love in the face of hate seems so counterintuitive at first but the perpetrators of this evil, like the rest of us, are human, beloved children of God.

In Matthew 25:35, Jesus remarks that those who inherit the Kingdom of God are those who have served Jesus in times of need: “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat; I was naked and you clothed me; I was sick and you took care of me.” 

Likewise, when our brothers and sisters in Christ are ill with the sickness of violence and lies, the Catholic response is to nurse them back to health, to faith in the goodness of God’s Kingdom. We cannot perceive terrorists as deserving disgust and indignation. Rather, our first reaction must be one of selfless sympathy and concern for their well-being as humans. 

The crucial step on this road to healing is forgiveness; to welcome these individuals back into God’s Kingdom even after they have caused us immeasurable damage. 

The best way to support people during difficult times is to pray for them. So let us pray for the terrorists. Let us pray that they realize the horror of their false ideologies and repent in a wish to start anew. When we do so, we do our part in uniting all of humanity as God’s loving children. 

(Adragna, 17, is a Grade 12 student at Bishop Allen Academy in Toronto.)

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