When I heard that Dr. Jack Kevorkian died, my first thought was to pray for his soul. Did I want to? Not especially, but it was the same thought that occurred to me when Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein passed away. While we often find it difficult to pray for people who did “bad things”, it’s something that we must do. Here are 5 reasons why we should pray for Kevorkian, bin Laden, Hitler and all of the other people who we “don’t like”:
1. Some People Need More Help - By all accounts, Dr. Kevorkian assisted many people in committing suicide. Osama bin Laden, Hussein and Hitler’s transgressions are well documented…they all did some “bad” things. They have a lot to account for. They need our prayers BADLY!
2. It’s A Spiritual Work Of Mercy - Praying for the living and the dead is a spiritual work of mercy, as taught by the Church. We are commanded to pray for all of the dead, not just the “good ones”.
3. Show Mercy = Receive Mercy - If we refuse to forgive or show mercy to Kevorkian, bin Laden, and other “bad men”, then we can’t expect the Lord to be merciful to us. In His Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said, “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy” (Mt 5:7). When it’s my time to be judged, I want all the mercy I can get!
4. They Can’t Help Themselves - We are given a finite period of time to merit the reward of eternal life. Once we die, the time for proving ourselves is over. The souls of the deceased can no longer help themselves and must depend on our intercession. In an excerpt from her diary, St. Faustina documents the powerful message given to her by Jesus:
” Pray as much as you can for the dying. By your entreaties, obtain for them trust in My mercy, because they have most need of trust, and have it the least. Be assured that the grace of eternal salvation for certain souls in their final moment depends on your prayer. You know the whole abyss of My mercy, so draw upon it for yourself and especially for poor sinners. Sooner would heaven and earth turn into nothingness than would My mercy not embrace a trusting soul. (1777)
5. The Bible Tells Us To – In 2 Maccabees 12:46, Judas Maccabeus made atonement for the dead, in order that they may be delivered from their sin. The fact that he prayed for them to be “freed from their sin” implies that it’s acceptable to pray for sinners! Praying for the dead has been a constant practice of the Church as evidenced by the following statement from a bishop and doctor of the Church:
“Let us help and commemorate them. If Job’s sons were purified by their father’s sacrifice, why would we doubt that our offerings for the dead bring them some consolation? Let us not hesitate to help those who have died and to offer our prayers for them.” (St. John Chrysostom)
Even though it’s difficult, the Church teaches that we should always remember our deceased brothers and sisters. The fact that they committed evil acts doesn’t make one bit of difference. Furthermore, when you are facing your own judgment day, some of these same “bad guys” may be praying for you!