We are praying for (Warrant Officer) Patrice Vincent and (Cpl.) Nathan Cirillo among the departed. And for Martin Couture-Rouleau and Michael Zehaf-Bibeau who took their lives – and in turn whose lives were taken. As a community of faith, we pray for the innocent and for perpetrators of violence. The Prayers of the People (the Intercessions) are not a list of “the approved.” We may pray for the great and the good and we remember those whose lives have been notorious and barbaric – most of us most of the time find ourselves living somewhere between these extremes.
One manifestation of Love, as a fruit of the Holy Spirit, is that we pray for those who persecute us which is one expression of loving our enemies (Mt. 5.44). So many lives have been affected and infected by recent events in St. Jean sur Richelieu, Quebec and on Parliament Hill. Bystanders and those going about their daily round of work were embroiled in vortices of violence. Mothers, fathers, siblings and colleagues reel with shock and disbelief. In a heartbeat the world can be changed forever. Our nation reacts with renewed commitments to enhanced security. (Cold comfort for those who mourn.) Supposition and accusation abound. Ethic and religious profiling seem freshly legitimate, if not essential.
Whatever the facts, vilification, demonization and marginalization of any religious-ethnic section of society is ugly, it imperils the common good and is profoundly un-Christian. Every religion, ours included, has its own brand of zealots. Radicalization is always a concern for each religion. When any part of our society of citizens is hurting – even, especially, perpetrators and those whom we may think of as our enemies – we are all wounded.
At every opportunity let us be in solidarity with all people of faith. Islam, like every religion, is a finely woven tapestry of doctrine and practice which makes a glorious whole. As Christians we must be careful about taking any moral high ground. (Do we need to remind ourselves how Christians treated one another only a few centuries ago during the Reformation?)
We only love Jesus Christ as much as the person whom we love the least (see Mt. 25:31–46). And we are called to love our enemies (Mt. 5.44). This is fruitful Spirit led cross-shaped loving.
Father Mark Greenaway-Robbins