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Evil is bad, but pointless evil defies comprehension

April 8, 2014

Two Catholic men were murdered in the last few days, one an elderly Jesuit who elected to stay with his flock in a war zone, the other a young husband and father-to-be walking home, it seems, from class. I knew neither man but both seem to have led lives focused on God and neighbor. Both were shot yet their deaths strike me very differently.

The old Jesuit was killed by cowardly religious haters. The priest’s murder was immediately described as a kind of martyrdom, a final demonstration of the love that he had showed for decades to the victims of war and persecution. The old Jesuit is, and should be, recognized as a hero, an example to us all of that Love which conquers all.

The student, in contrast, died simply because some [supply your own expletive], not content with the young man’s wallet (and his identity, etc.), felt like shooting him in the gut for the hell of it. The young man’s death was utterly pointless. His last moments on earth are an inspiration to no one (though perhaps a few in the area will discreetly avoid walking along that stretch of road for a while).

I am sad for both men, but I take just a bit of vicarious pride in the legacy of the old Jesuit, in his serving faithfully and selflessly until death. He’s “one of our guys” and as a Catholic I share a just bit in the glory that is now his. But the young man, the husband, the father, I see in him a man and a family robbed of so incalculably much, apparently, for nothing. In his death I sense only the empty void left by gratuitous evil. I’d like to think that I could, if called upon, take a bullet for Jesus, but I shudder to think of taking a bullet for nothing.

Just as I know I can do more with my life so I am certain that this young man could have done much more with his had it not been stolen from him. I even wonder, if this young man’s life had to end in violence, why could death not have come after 50 years of serving others? Why could he not be a martyr? Why did he have to be statistic?

Someone, help me see the redemptive value of such mindless waste. Right now all I see is the nothing.

In the meantime, May their souls and all the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.

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