May 30, 2011 - Monday of the Sixth Week of Easter (Memorial Day)

Today's Readings

“The hour is coming when everyone who kills you will think he is offering worship to God.” Jesus is saying this referring to the persecution of the early Jewish Christians by those Jews who did not become Christian, but this is a problem we are facing again now. Clearly many of the terrorists think that when they are killing people, whether innocent civilians or American soldiers, that they are offering worship to God.

I heard on the radio about a week ago of a recent attack in Afghanistan. A suicide bomber attacked the cafeteria of a hospital. He killed 6 Afghan medical students and injured dozens more. I found this attack to be particularly frustrating in its complete pointlessness and stupidity. As a modern American, I try to understand their point of view, but I fail. This attack was not merely wrong or mistaken, it was evil: it was inspired by Satan.

I do understand that they are not killing us only because we are Christian, that there are complex issues at play, consequences of years of greed, but I have not forgotten how, before September 11th, when they still ruled Afghanistan, they killed Christians in a stadium for preaching the Gospel. I understand that there are Muslims, many Muslims, who have no sympathies for the Taliban cause at all. So, without labeling it, I speak only of the religion of the terrorists, who think that they are worshipping God by killing people.

We see a reflection of the spiritual battle between good and evil. Just as Jesus told us, the spiritual battle will have life and death consequences in the material world. I am not saying that this war or any war is the will of God. I am saying that there are some things worth fighting in this world. Those who fight evil with peaceful means deserve to be commended, but so too do we owe respect to those who fight with necessary force against evil, putting their own lives in danger so that evil is less able to cause suffering.

Today we remember all those who have died while fighting evil. The circumstances of each individual’s death do not matter today. We can blame various political leaders if they deserve it. The soldiers, sailors, marines, airmen, and guardians were ready to fight and die for the battle against evil. For their own sake it matters only that they acted with honor, obeying their conscience at all times. For our part, we do not stand as anyone’s judge, but honor all those who have died fighting the enemies of our country.