I was horrified by the explosions of evil at the Boston Marathon just one week ago today.
Today, I remember the three people who were killed in that attack and the more than 170 others who were wounded. I also remember the police officer who was murdered in the line of duty.
How could such evil be perpetrated against innocent people?
The alleged bombers' motives are unknown, although one of the suspects is reportedly communicating with officials from his hospital bed. We might learn more about what drove these two alleged bombers to wage their slaughter at the marathon and then to kill a police officer and grievously wound another.
Did the violence in Chechnya, a country to which the suspects were connected by family, or elsewhere, somehow contribute to their alleged murderous rampage? Was the brothers' separation from family a reason?
Had the suspects become insensitive to the deadly consequences of bombs and bullets because they'd watched too many terror videos and because they were immersed in America's culture of violence?
Why did the older brother turn to violent forms of his religion, according to media reporting? Where were more moderate forms of his religion, and why didn't representatives of the same reach out to him? It's ironic that the older brother's boxing gym was a less violent community for him than his own online religious community.
Whatever the reasons for these cruel, calculated and deadly attacks, there can never be any legitimacy for them. Nothing can ever justify the murder of three people at the marathon, one an eight-year old boy, and a police officer in his squad car. There is no justification for the wounding of so many others. Nothing can excuse the terrorizing of Boston and the nation.
And, also ironically, these two suspects, one dead and the other in hospital now, were allowed refuge in this country, educated in American schools and received scholarships to American colleges. The younger brother had become a U.S. citizen. The older one had married an American woman and had a child with her. What had America ever done to harm these two men? Why did they hate us so much?
Yesterday was Good Shepherd Sunday. Someone asked me, "If you had preached yesterday, what would you have said, especially in the context of the Boston Marathon bombings?" Actually, I'd been thinking about that question all last week.
Thinking about Jesus, the Good Shepherd, I'd have said we should not live in fear but should go on running our marathons, sending our children to school, living our lives as normally as possible in a culture of bomb and gun violence; I remember how those brave Londoners kept calm and carried on while Hitler's Luftwaffe bombed them nightly.
I'd have said that the Good Shepherd was there with the Boston victims at their deaths, holding them and comforting them as they were being born anew into everlasting life. And the Shepherd was--and is, even now--with the injured, working for their restoration.
I'd have said that I was not afraid. I believe that, no matter what happens to me, I am alive always in the Living God; and that nothing--not a terrorist's bomb or bullet--will ever separate me from the love of God for me in Christ Jesus. It is the same for all those who belong to God in Christ Jesus.
And, inspired by the New Testament reading from Revelation yesterday, I'd have said that I saw the innocent--the four victims of Boston's week of horror--standing before the throne of the Lamb of God, robed in the white of the resurrection, rejoicing because they had come out of the "great ordeal....
"And the one who is seated on the throne will shelter them. They will hunger no more, and thirst no more; the sun will not strike them, nor any scorching heat; for the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of the water of life, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes."