Sunday, September 11, 2011

Forgive the 9/11 Terrorists?

It would be a rare human who could forgive terrorists who hated the U.S. so powerfully that they were willing to kill 3,000 people at one stroke.  What would be more normal than to hate them in return?  When a person does forgive an enemy, it is so shocking (and uplifting!) that it attracts attention. 

We easily remember Nelson Mandela leading the effort in South Africa to forgive the very people who sent him to jail for 27 years, and caught the attention of the world and brought peace and stability to South Africa for the first time in many decades. 

Nelson Mandela

Those of us who live in the U.S. remember the unbelievable act of forgiveness offered by the Amish community in Lancaster Pennsylvania in the fall of 2006 after a gunman shot 10 young girls in a schoolhouse, killing 5, then committing suicide.  Blogger Steven Greydanus writes, "Within hours of the shooting, the Amish reached out to the gunman's widow, assuring her of their forgiveness to her husband and their lack of ill will for her.  When the gunman was buried, dozens of Amish were in attendance. 
(Read more:

Mourning Amish Girls in Lancaster

What motivates Christians to behave in such a selfless manner?  They understand from the two scriptures below that Jesus has a larger plan for humanity than just helping us each achieve a personal sense of fairness in life. He wants us to be willing to let go of our goal of fairness in the name of attracting people to the much larger objective of demonstrating love of enemies.

Forgive seven times seventy times      Matthew 18:21-22
Man forgiven a huge debt                  Matthew 18:23-35

These, by the way, are the official readings for the Catholic Church for Sept. 11, 2011, the ten-year anniversary of the World Trade Center attacks.

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