On the second Sunday of Easter, we learned Osama bin Laden had been killed by United States Special Forces in Pakistan. Hearing the news, I was at first dismissive - an attitude lacking sobriety and not hard to find in the various print, social media, and comedic responses to this event. The temptation to casually respond preys on our tendency to become isolated from the rest of the world – with which we do not have to deal directly. This is natural, of course, for our plates are full of work and play and bills and so forth. But the possibility and reality of death does not escape us. Navy Seals courageously risked their lives to follow a direct order – one that took the life of the world’s most wanted fugitive. U.S. Armed Forces men and women risk their lives every day to carry out direct orders pertaining to the protection of life and various societies. And civilians lose their lives.
A more sober look at the weekend’s news takes me to the Tower of Babel – where the marvel of human potential was on full display. After all, we have been created “a little lower than the angels” and are capable of great things – still wanting to make a name for ourselves. We see and experience this both in unimaginable evil and remarkable virtue. So we look with humility at judgment and justice, both our own and that of the world’s most powerful. And we grieve, and we pray, and we make room for life.
As Christ’s followers, we stand in the hope of Pentecost. For in that place we remember that the Spirit of God is at work creating the antithesis of Babel – a reality called the Church. Here the gospel of Jesus reconciles us to God and one another across language and culture. Death is overcome by Christ's life, death, and resurrection. And as we turn our attention to this mystery, confusion and “making a name for ourselves” are displaced by worship.
And this is the hope of the world.