April 10, 2017 by eneubauer
By now most of you have heard about the tragic loss of life the Coptic Christian community experienced on Palm Sunday. This marks the beginning of Holy Week as Christians prepare to celebrate the death, burial and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who conquered death and rose again. The one who gives humanity new and eternal life for those who believe.
I have to admit that I was angry when I saw this come across my news feed. An attack on a minority, Christian community by the Islamic State just as they were celebrating a most sacred event. The King of Kings humbly riding into Jerusalem on a donkey just days before his own crucifixion. On this day Priests, deacons, religious and the laity all gathered together singing, praying and reflecting. With eyes lifted heavenward this attack needlessly ended the lives of the most innocent and their opportunity to make this world a better place.
However, this horrific event did not incite Christians to riot! Christians did not attack embassy’s across the globe in angry protest. The Vatican isn’t raising an army to defend the most vulnerable Christian communities across the wider Middle East. No, once again in reaction to unnecessary aggression Christians bury their dead and will begin to rebuild their Churches. We will continue to worship and serve our neighbors and the most vulnerable in peace. We can be assured that these new martyrs are now praying for us that we may be strong and bold in our faith.
Remembering what Scripture foretold and Jesus said:
On this Palm Sunday it is good for us to stop and remember what scripture teaches us. Isaiah 53:7 states, “He (Jesus) was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so he (the King of Kings) did not open his mouth.
In the New Testament Jesus reminds us that what happened to Him will happen to those following him. John 15: 20-21 says, “Remember the word that I said to you ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. But all these things they will do to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me.”
Like sheep led to the slaughter these new Coptic Christian martyrs were led to an untimely end. Scripture reveals and our faith teaches us that this end is but a beginning for the Christian. Holy Scripture reminds us that life here is but a foreshadowing of the life that is to come in the heavenly Jerusalem. That is, eternal life in the very presence of God.
As I stated earlier we can also take comfort that those martyrs are now interceding on our behalf – that we would make right and Godly decisions in light of our current circumstances. Finally, we cannot (esp. those in the West) disregard that fact that Jesus said this would happen. It happened in first century to Christians and will happen in the twenty first century as well. This is why we have to be prepared. Know your faith, study the scriptures, participate in Mass, strengthen the bonds of Christian unity within your parish community, inspire others to grow in their faith and assist the most vulnerable (Christians / non-Christians alike) with a special kindness and generosity. This is our call. This is our response.
Love. Palm Sunday. Holy Week.