The terrifying tragedy and trauma of terrorist assaults seem never to fully abate.

The terrifying tragedy and trauma of terrorist assaults seem never to fully abate.  

From 9/11 through Tucson, Va. Tech, Aurora, Sandy Hook, to the horror of Boston, the useless massacre of innocent people keeps recurring.  When the news announces “Breaking News” my whole being tenses as I await a report of some new tragedy.  

The most recent carnage occurred at the finish line of the Boston Marathon, Monday, 4/15/13, Patriot’s Day!   

Three innocents were murdered, one a 10 year old lad, more than 140 wounded, with some victims loosing limbs. These attacks are planned by a cruel diabolical mind and an evil will designed to kill as many as possible and to cause many more innocents pain, grief, sorrow and suffering.  There always is a smell of hell in the smoke from the explosions.

There were many hero’s who ran to assist those fallen.  The whole nation mourned the dead and prayed for swift healing for the injured. Though the attack was in Boston, the terrorist knew that their evil would wound a nation.

America truly is  “one nation, indivisible”; to injure one is to injure all.  The flags of a nation fly at half-staff, and the prayers of the people are in unison. I hope that national mourning and ardent prayer will continue in the days ahead.  

But now what?

Once the smoke has settled, the debris collected, and the streets open again to traffic, how will America respond to this assault?

I know that every part of me cries for justice for the vile perpetrators. Our President, the Governor of Mass. and the Mayor of Boston all vowed to bring the cruel evil ones to justice.

I think that following such a dastardly and cowardly act, most feel that vengeance is the only justice that fits the crime. Swift and rigorous retaliation, retribution, revenge upon those responsible for such a heinous horror is the only way we can vindicate the dead and honor the injured.

We’ve got to get the culprits and somehow make them pay for the innocent lives they stole.  That seems the only just response, the only fair response, the only righteous response. It is what most of us want.

That surely was our reaction to 9/11.  We hurt, grieved and then decided that someone had to pay. Our leaders selected two nations whom they deemed primarily responsible for the more than 3.000 American deaths. It was touted that one nation had “weapons of mass destruction” that threatened the whole world.  

The other nation was guilty by association. It had allowed training grounds for the airborne terrorists. The second claim was validated. The first accusation was totally false.

Yet we wreaked vengeance upon a nation that had no part of the attack on the World Trade Center and we caused equal destruction to another country that had no direct involvement, only a support role. 

Many still die because of our focus on vengeance.

The only mission accomplished was America doing for the Arabs what the Ayatollah Khomeini couldn’t.

We united the Shite Arabs of Iraq, with the Shiite Arabs of Iran making them both stronger and more menacing.

By our compulsive and violent response we significantly heightened hatred toward America throughout the Middle East. There must be a better way. Our faith must quell our feelings; our faith must quell our fear. We must trust the Lord to guide us.

Many Americans often claim that America is a “Christian nation.”  Many in their pledge of allegiance firmly state that America is “one nation, under God, indivisible!”  

If indeed, America is a nation “under God”, then which God?  

It is in times of crisis that a people identify the true deity they worship. Is the Christ our Lord? Do we listen to Him and do what He commands? He asks His disciples: “You call me Lord; why then do you not do what I say?” (Luke 6:46).

He asks America the same. Hear His words delivered on the Mount:  “love your enemies, do good to those who persecute you, pray for those who spitefully use you.  Never seek vengeance, but overcome evil with good.”  (Matt. 5 – 7).

Another time: “Forgive not 7 times, but 70 x 7”! (Matt. 18: 21-22).  Can we pursue the culprits, capture them, and then treat them with a Christian response?  Can we have the patience, kindness, and love for even our enemies that Jesus command of us?

I’m not advocating blindly exonerating, forgetting and freeing such evil persons. Their cruel murders forfeited their right to live among civilized people. When apprehended they must face the judgment of the grieving survivors and of the society they so viciously wounded.

I am hoping and praying, however, that justice, not vengeance, is our goal. If it is discovered that the terrorists are foreigners, let’s not rush to war to conqueror and destroy the agent of the terrorists as we did after 9/11.

History shows that thousands of persons have died for no reason except for our desire to “get even”, to give retribution, achieve vengeance upon someone, anyone. We completely ignored the guidance of the One we call Lord.

The carnage we caused far exceeded the carnage we suffered.  I’m baffled how any supporter of those wars can “profess and call themselves Christian?”

How many more would be alive if we had listened to Jesus, calmed our rage, paused in our pursuit of revenge, and sought the basis of the fanatical hate that motivated 19 young people to sacrifice their own lives just to injure America?

We might have discovered a peaceful resolution to their hatred and made the whole world safer.  Even in today’s painful agony, let us not repeat the horrid mistakes of our recent past.  If the terrorists are domestic murderers, then let us capture them, put them on trial, and remove them from civilized society for the rest of their lives.

Even with them, the death-penalty would restore no lives lost, would do no good, and only return “evil for evil”, a response which the Lord Jesus condemns.

Is America a Christian country?

Can we do what Jesus tells us?

The days ahead will tell us just who it is we call Lord.

The opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily those of the McPherson Sentinel or GateHouse Media.

Fr. Bob Layne is a Episcopal priest living in McPherson.