Since Sunday, a lot of prayers have been said for America, for our public policies, and for the dead and living victims of the Orlando slaughter.
On Wednesday, I asked people to also pray for Omar Mateen, the alleged killer who may have had loyalties to ISIS and allegedly beat his ex-wife.
Just hours after Mateen’s attack, Catholics heard Christ remind his Pharisee host that a prostitute’s “many sins have been forgiven because she has shown great love. But the one to whom little is forgiven, loves little.”
Like the Maccabees, we are called to pray to expiate the sins of the dead. Until we also leave this life, we’ll not know where Omar Mateen ended up, but it is our responsibility to help him out as best we can.
Even if one doesn’t believe in expiation of sins for the dead, the power of turning poisonous emotions like hate, despair, and fear into prayer and positive actions and thoughts are undeniable. These are not just religious principles; the power of positive thinking, to use the clichéd phrase, is well-established in numerous scientific disciplines as being a key part of driving a successful personal and professional future.
Alida McDaniel, a holistic life coach whose belief system is radically different from my own, put it this way:
When we turn to compassion for acknowledging that common sense is based on personal experience, not on collective wisdom, we embrace the possibility that we can learn something from everyone. When we pray in hate or disgust, we say to God, Source, the Universe, whatever you want to call the Higher Power, “I am the victim here because their actions don’t match my beliefs which means THEY are wrong and I am right.” The prayer gets answered back with a physical manifestation to validate your belief of being a victim either in the workplace, in your home life, at the grocery store, or even on the drive home. By way of praying with hate, you attract more experiences into your own life that prove you are the victim rather than actually praying for healing to the real victims or bringing good out of evil.
Alida’s words are similar to those of my friend Daniel Sadasivan, whose comment on Facebook reminded me of the truth about how forgiving others helps us (emphasis added):
I absolutely agree that he is a disgusting person (I wanted to use a different noun but Dustin wouldn’t let me) who fills my heart with nothing but hate. But I think the way I feel towards him not only doesn’t prevent me but requires me to pray for him for two reasons….Secondly I’ve never killed anyone but I have done some pretty bad things. I do hope for forgiveness for my own sins and I’m not sure how I can do that if I can’t forgive Omar Mateen’s.
Daniel’s words hearken back to those spoken by Christ, who in Luke 5:32 reminds that “I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance,” and Paul’s admonition that “all have sinned and fall short of the Glory of God.”
As I wrote in my original piece, it’s easy to spout off about praying for Mateen when I’m a keyboard warrior, writing safely from my apartment, never having lost a family member or friend to the kind of evil that he committed. But for Christians who find forgiving Mateen difficult, I again circle back to Christ, commanded us to “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”
For if you love those who love you, what recompense will you have? Do not the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet your brothers only, what is unusual about that? Do not the pagans do the same?
So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.
Whether you call it prayer, positive thinking, meditation, or something else entirely – focusing on a positive future isn’t just good for Mateen, his victims, and the friends and family of all involved in Sunday’s shooting. It is an important way for those of us left living to bring love and compassion to the world, instead of hate and conflict that eat away at souls and harm our ability to bring forth good fruit for our fellow man.
Martin Luther King, Jr. said it well: “I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.”
It would please ISIS to no end to know millions of Americans were drawn to hate instead of love after Omar Mateen’s evil actions. Let’s prove ‘em wrong.