At church this morning our pastor posed a question I know I have asked myself from time to time. Do those who perpetrate evil get to heaven? He was referring to the terrorists of 9/11 who believed with all their hearts what they were doing was right.
I wonder what the final moments must have been like for the passengers and crew of each fateful flight. They probably thought about their loved ones. I'll bet they were afraid, in shock and disbelief. If they had faith in God, I'll bet they prayed. If they had children I'll bet they held them close.
I thought about what I might say If I knew my last moments on earth were near. Perhaps it would be something like this, "O God, forgive me for what I have done and what I have failed to do. Please take me in your arms and care for all of those I leave behind." But who knows, right?
I prayed for the helpless victims whose planes were turned into weapons. Then I thought about the terrorists. They were passengers too. I wondered if they had any change of heart or if they died shouting, "I do this in the name of God!" Could they be in heaven... with the God they claimed to serve? Surely the God I love would not appreciate such a sadistic gesture. Did they know what they were doing? Did they really think it was right? Had they been brainwashed into thinking 9/11 was their destiny? Did they buy into a stupid idea and just stay there too long? It happens all the time on so many levels. I know this... a bad idea grew in that group of terrorists and nobody stopped the stupid. Did they brace themselves before the end and realize their wrong doing... or did they go down with stupid... believing to the end there was no other way?
Is heaven for humans like that? It's not for me to say.
(You can read Fr. Tim's homily on his blog, From My Side Of The Altar)