The Verdict

God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.

For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him…

And this is the verdict, that the light came into the world, but people preferred darkness to light, because their works were evil. (John 3:16-19)

“This is the verdict.”

Can it be a co-incidence that when we come to church this week, when our national airwaves are full of justice finally being done on our enemy, we hear the most famous verses of the Bible, and one of the verses is: “This is the verdict.”

Verdict. Verum dictum. True word.

The truth harries a man who has done evil. We can run; we can blind ourselves; we can fill our heads with noise to provide a distraction. But the truth will not go away. The truth waits. It is patient. He is patient.

Christ came as the light of the world. He came to restore us to our original dignity. The dignity of man is to be a flute that harmonizes with the divine orchestra in a springtime fantasia. The dignity of man is to abide in peace with everything that is beautiful and true.

But Christ is patient about shining His light of truth. He let His life be snuffed out by evil men.

The truth is patient. He can afford to be.

Every self-serving trick that anyone tries to play on the truth will run its course in the end. Every scaffolding of lies erected to justify cruelty and violence will tumble to the ground. As sure as the stone rolled away from the tomb, the truth will be left standing.

So, yes: There is hardly any question that this man who bombed and bashed our country and killed our people in cold blood—there is hardly any question that this man deserved to die. The blood of the innocent dead cried out from the ground for justice.

But, I’m sorry: We are fools if we rejoice at this news of death, even a death that appears so thoroughly just.

The truth is patient. The Judge Who judges all does not hasten to speak His true word, His verdict upon us. To the contrary, He patiently holds back His Almighty hand, so that we might turn from sin and find salvation.

A decade of walking through airports in socks. A decade of confusing wars on the other side of the world. A decade of long lines, and hassles, and metal detectors everywhere. Ten years, a long time. A lot has been asked of our patience. We have been pretty amazingly patient these past ten years.

Could we not have been patient enough to capture this man and see him through a well-ordered trial in which the truth could soberly assert itself in all its clarity? Could we not have been patient enough to wait for a well-informed, rational verdict, laid down in accord with law, delivered without the prejudice of haste or raw emotion? Could we not have been patient enough to allow the truth, calmly laid out before him at the bar of justice, to maybe move even this man to repentance?

I think we could have been that patient. I think we could have been that dignified. I think we could have been that Christian.

2 thoughts on “The Verdict

  1. Fr. Mark,

    Tough one to put out, tough one on which to extend comment; but I agree with your approach for different reasons, AND, I don’t necessarily agree with the pronouncement on the choice of alive over dead when it comes to the moment of choice in the middle of the raid.

    The easy one first. The choice of dead or alive was determinate only in the context of the action itself; and much of that information should not be revealed. However, much of the policy-type decisions which went into the action would be best examined — perhaps quietly, but more probably publically. When all is said and done, I think that most would agree with your position. But, to question the individuals who carried out the raid on their choice is misleading, and a diversion from the “truth”, which “will out.”

    Secondly, the easier one. The approach of a true follower of Jesus Christ would be the best approach to the current situation, that is, a general world-wide war of terror. With patience and a proper humility about our own importance, much of the fear and posturing that has been emblematic of our approach to national security would be un-necessary. We would not have engaged in conventional military conflict to address the attack. Nor would we be subjected to the degrading petty, “cop-thought” searches at the airports, and — Lord help us — in the Metro stations. Yes, we would have used metal detectors and random searches, and trained screeners — not the rag-tag army of second-world processors we have. All would have made their choices about modes and destinations of transportation fully aware that at any time, some terrorist might be capable of blowing our entire vacinity to smitherines. Governments would do their best to ferret out concerted efforts to mount such attacks, primarily by limiting the sources of explosives, and by advanced detection of the same. But, everyone would know the nature of the war, and of man’s frailty; and no one would have been demanding and/or getting compensation for acts of terrorism. National and international policies would be guided by the realities of such conflict. Osama-bin-laden would have been walled effectively by this time — militarily, economically, and socially — and he and his cohort would have gone down together in some form or another.

    Last, for the situation at hand, the more difficult one, I wish the U. S. Government, and all its petty functionaries could just keep their mouths shut; but the unseemly rush to get in front of the television cameras has made us — once again — an international laughingstock. I’m not talking about the “celebrants” in Times Square — or where ever, New York is so big. And, I’m not talking about the distasteful, braggart, puffery the Administration is exuding — to their own ultimate detriment. I’m talking about the fact that the blabbling is revealing information which should be kept secret. Is there no one in the Administration who understands the importance of silence in maintaining national security?



  2. Father…..The pros and cons of the mission aside for the moment, how unseemly is the unmodulated jingoism, the unrestrained celebration of vengeance and death on TV and radio. “The greatest moment of my life” one TV talking head announced. I suggest that guy get a life and reflect on its importance before making that comment.
    Sunday evening we observed the administration of the “justice” of the death penalty without a trial, with all the enthusiasm and glee of a World Cup victory. The taking of life is, for those that hold that life is sacred, a somber and sober event, as a soul is dispatched to its final destination. With no time for further reflection or repentance. It is an event of unequaled finality……Bill

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