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Love Your Enemies

May 9, 2013

I don’t know about you but one of the sad threads in the aftermath of the horrific bombing in Boston is the search by the Tsarnaev family for a place to bury their relative, Tamerlan, who was apparently the mastermind of the hateful plot.  Cemetery after cemetery in the area has refused to allow his body to be buried and, when a couple of them have agreed to do so, local town boards have quickly stepped in to pass ordinances to refuse the body.

I am as appalled and disgusted as any by the hateful bombing but this reaction saddens me.  I understand broken hearts, understand anger, but don’t understand this.  Adam Lansa was buried quietly in spite of horror he inflicted in Newtown; Lee Harvey Oswald lies buried, the Columbine shooters are buried, Timothy McVeigh was cremated and his ashes, at his request, scattered on public land.  Why is Tsarnaev’s body denied?  The answer is probably obvious but not comfortable.

Into this mix comes a small, but growing, cadre of Christians.  They are offering their own burial plots to the Tsarnaev family.  You can see one such offer here.  This man, Paul Keane, offered his own plot, next to that of his mother, to bury a killer.  I doubt that, on first thought, he leapt with joy to say “”It would be great if that guy’s body could be next to mom’s.”  My suspicion is that, instead, he reflected on the words of Jesus when he told a shocked Jewish audience “You have heard it said ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy’ but I tell you love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”  Then he apparently decided that Jesus actually meant what He said.

And he gave up his own burial plot.

To a killer.

To an enemy.

It is an offer that challenges me to my very soul.  Does loving my enemy mean more than just tolerating someone who bugs me?  Does it mean more than not yelling at someone who hold beliefs I find repugnant.  I’ve got a bad feeling that maybe it does.

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From → Christianity

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