Saturday, May 15, 2010

God bless this man, his victims, and all those who suffer through our vengance-based form of "justice."

It was thoroughly unnecessary to kill this man. Not only was he apparently repentant, thereby posing little if any threat to the community, but the jail in which he was incarcerated seemed to have no trouble separating him permanently from society. In a civilization that has such wonderfully built and guarded prisons as our own, there is simply no need to go to such extremes for the good of the population. If he had been allowed to live he would have continued repenting for his sins and presumably bringing his soul closer to God in anticipation of his natural death. As it is it would seem, if he was genuine in his repentance and conversion, that his soul is now with God although the process was somewhat shortened by its unnaturalness. If he is indeed with God now then he is at peace, which is a wonderful thing. The people I am most concerned about, and for whom I pray, are those who participated in the execution and the family members who worked to bring it about. Revenge is a very ugly emotion, and one that nobody should keep within their heart for such a long time. Forgiveness is very liberating, and while it can be difficult it is obviously something that we're called to do. I understand that the wounds created by this man's actions make it hard for the families to believe him when he asks forgiveness, but he had no reason to lie once he was on the table and his fate was sealed and besides it harms them none to grant such forgiveness even if it is requested insincerely.

There is something tragic in the support given to the death penalty by people who follow Christ. It is one thing for the world to support this, because it is all about easy answers and visceral emotions, but we are told by our Lord and Savior to love our enemies and pray for our persecutors. As Christians we should remember Matthew chapter 5 and forgive, but all too often we fall back into the bloodlust and hatred that were put to death in us by the sacrifice of Christ. Why is it that liberals who seemingly have no concept of the sanctity of human life, looking at abortion and euthanasia as if they were nothing to be concerned about, are more likely to recoil from these acts of state-sponsored murder than the followers of a man who was himself executed and prayed for the salvation of his executioners? Why is it that conservative Catholics who chide liberal "Cafeteria Catholics" for their selective acceptance of the Church's pronouncements choose themselves to either ignore or condemn statements by the Bishops and indeed the Pope about the death penalty while in the same breath praising these men when they talk about abortion or stem cell research? It would seem that we are all selective in our acceptance of Church teaching, praising the bishops when they confirm our beliefs and deriding them as out of touch when they challenge them, and it is something for which we should all pray.

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