Praying for Terrorists

Even though I finished retreat and drove back from the retreat house yesterday, one final post prompted by my time there. During the petitions at our daily Masses during the retreat, the presider, as is sometimes done in other places, asked for us to voice our petitions.

During one of the Masses, after some of the more usual petitions, one of the retreatants, an older nun prayed “For terrorists.” Often in my own parish, our petitions include prayers for service men and women. (When they do, I am always jarred that the request is only for prayers for “our” service men and women and not those otherwise affected by war.) But never before have I heard anyone pray out loud for terrorists.

Praying for terrorists doesn’t necessarily come easy. Terrorists flew the plane into the World Trade Center, killing my uncle, my friend Clarin, my former classmate Chris, my friend Nancy’s brother, and so many others.

But the nun’s petition is a good reminder of Jesus’ words in Matthew:

Love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your heavenly Father, for he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust.

As Jesus goes on to say, anyone can love those who are good to them. Even the pagans do that. But as Christians we are asked to do that which is hard – and that includes praying for terrorists.