What would Jesus say to terrorists?

This question can be answered easily from the teachings of Jesus in the Gospels. But the answer is not the same as what some Catholics are saying in their commentary on the death of the terrorist Osama bin Laden.

To unrepentant terrorists, those that are very prominent and those that are much less well known, Jesus would say these words:

“Repent. For the kingdom of heaven has drawn near.” (Mt 4:17)

“Amen I say to you, unless you change and become like little children, you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.” (Mt 18:3).

“But whoever will have led astray one of these little ones, who trust in me, it would be better for him to have a great millstone hung around his neck, and to be submerged in the depths of the sea.” (Mt 18:6).

Are bin Laden and other terrorists our ‘brothers’, as Fr. Robert Barron claims? Here is what Jesus says about our brothers:

“But if your brother has sinned against you, go and correct him, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you will have regained your brother. But if he will not listen you, invite with you one or two more, so that every word may stand by the mouth of two or three witnesses. And if he will not listen to them, tell the Church. But if he will not listen to the Church, let him be to you like the pagan and the tax collector.” (Mt 18:15-17).

According to Jesus, persons who are unrepentant from grave sins, which certainly includes the exceedingly grave sins of terrorists, are to be treated like outsiders, not like brothers. These unrepentant terrorists have no compassion for their fellow human persons. And so the words of Jesus in the parable of the servant who owed ten thousand talents apply to them:

” ‘Therefore, should you not also have had compassion on your fellow servant, just as I also had compassion on you?’ And his lord, being angry, handed him over to the torturers, until he repaid the entire debt.” (Mt 18:33-34).

God has shown compassion to all human persons, even terrorists, by offering them, during their lives, grace and providence far in excess of what is needed to become compassionate loving persons. But in rejecting that grace, and in deciding to become hatful malicious persons, they have earned the wrath of God. If they die unrepentant, God will hand them over to the torturers, until their debt is repaid. But for those who die unrepentant from actual mortal sin, the debt and the torture is everlasting.

“Amen I say to you, that all sins will be forgiven the sons of men, and the blasphemies by which they will have blasphemed. But he who will have blasphemed against the Holy Spirit shall not have forgiveness in eternity; instead he shall be guilty of an eternal offense.” (Mk 3:28-29)

The sin of blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is final impenitence: the refusal, through the last moment of life, to repent from actual mortal sin. There is no forgiveness from God for persons who die unrepentant from actual mortal sin. Although God is an infinite ocean of mercy, those who refuse to repent are refusing to accept that mercy. And our loving and humble God will not force His mercy upon them.

The words of Jesus to unrepentant terrorists, who use religion to justify their crimes against humanity:

{7:21} Not all who say to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter into the kingdom of heaven. But whoever does the will of my Father, who is in heaven, the same shall enter into the kingdom of heaven.
{7:22} Many will say to me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and perform many powerful deeds in your name?’
{7:23} And then will I disclose to them: ‘I have never known you. Depart from me, you workers of iniquity.’


All Scripture quotations are from the Catholic Public Domain Version of the Bible

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