Saturday, July 23, 2011

Atrocity in Norway

Fr. Dale Matson

"In your anger do not sin: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry.” (Eph. 4:26).

In an article in the New York Times today by David Jolly, Anders Behring Breivik was identified as the suspect in the bombing and shooting related deaths of over ninety people. The New York Times also quoted the Norwegian police as referring to him as a right-wing fundamentalist Christian.

I am shocked and saddened by this cowardly and heinous act and condemn it. My deepest sympathies go out to those families who were directly affected and to the nation of Norway. This act has diminished all of us who inhabit this planet.

These are also not the actions of a psychotic individual because of the premeditation and planning that were required. A radicalized individual is not insane in the traditional sense. These are the actions of an individual that has allowed the root of bitterness to capture his heart. “See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled” (Hebrews 12:15).

I am also saddened that anyone would consider a radicalized murderer to be a Christian. This was not a Christian act nor was it the act of a Christian. No person who had the Holy Spirit dwelling inside could commit such a barbarous act against innocent individuals.

This is an individual who let bitterness take hold and fill his heart with hate. His imaginations became plans and his plans led to the death of scores of young people. Christians are commanded to love others and to have compassion on others not harm them.

When an individual is filled with such hate the unthinkable becomes a reasonable course of action. What is reasonable is not necessarily rational. That is a kind of non-psychotic insanity. That is what motivated Timothy McVeigh too.

As Christians, we are also commanded by Christ not to be afraid. Paul states, “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. “ (2nd Timothy 1:7).  I believe fear is the fertile soil for the root of bitterness and the fruit of this root of bitterness is a heart darkened by hate.

This was not the act of a fundamentalist Christian. It was the act of a radicalized man filled with fear, motivated by hate and empowered by Satan the murderer.

As our Lord told us, “By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles?” (Matt. 7:16). And what are the fruits whereby we may know a Christian? “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.” (Gal. 5:22-23a).

Lord, watch over the nation of Norway and especially comfort the affected families. Amen

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