We were talking about Good Friday during CCD class and one of my students raised her hand and asked if it was true that "all Jews went to hell because of what 'they' did to Jesus."
That question seriously made me feel like I was just mugged in the middle of Madison Square Garden on a Sunday afternoon.
After shaking what must've been the most stupified look ever from my face, I replied, "That's not true at all. No one can be sure of which souls are worthy of Heaven and which are punished in hell but God. Where did you hear that?"
She replied her father had told her. Another kid called out that he'd heard the same thing from his dad.
I was so beyond floored I simply don't have the words to express how distraught I was that there were parents teaching their impressionable children this horrifying prejudice!!!
So I attempted to redirect them and make it painstakingly clear that NO ONE can claim they know anyone (let alone an entire group of people) will end up in hell. NO ONE.
I gave them the example of Osama bin Laden. Of course every kid balked at first and basically said, "Surely you're out of your mind, Mrs. G. Obviously that SOB is using molten lava as mouthwash right now." However, I asked them to remember that even bin Laden was a child of God. God created him, too, with a soul and a heart just like the rest of us. I pressed them to answer if God loved bin Laden any less than the rest of us. Though they fought against admitting it, they finally relented and agreed that, yes, God "probably" loved bin Laden as much as He loved the rest of us. So with that in mind, would it be possible that God granted bin Laden a tiny moment of grace before his death in which bin Laden understood the pain he caused and sought forgiveness?
Again, this is all to prove a point to them. In their young minds, bin Laden is the most evil man ever - even worse than Hussein. So to be able to admit that even bin Laden might've somehow found his way into Purgatory forced them to admit that there's no way anyone could throw an entire group of people into the fire.
But wow. I was totally not prepared to have that one tossed my way last night. I'm seriously not even sure what I should do with the parents of these kids. Do I give them a call and say, "So hey... Dick and Jane brought up something interesting in class this week that I'd like to discuss with you" in the hopes that they realize what they say DOES have an effect?
Ugh - I don't know. I'm still truthfully a bit loopy from that. Thinking about it makes my heart hurt. It really does.
Dear Lord, these folks need to remember that Jesus, Himself, was a Jew! Those calling for His Death weren't just Jews - there were gentiles present as well! Christ died not just to save the Jews - He died to save ALL of us!
Le sigh - may God forgive us our foolishness.