11 Apr 2020. Cycle A-2020. Holy Saturday. Gn 1:1—2:2 + Rom 6:3-11 + Mt 28:1-10.
For if we have grown into union with him through a death like his, we shall also be united with him in the resurrection (Rom 6:5).
Flight in fright returns to fright in faith. That is the growth of Christianity after the Pentecost. From a band of cowering disciples, Christianity surged to become the biggest religion in the world. Not by military strategy, but by heavenly bravery. Today, however, statistics report that it is the most persecuted religion in the 20th and 21st centuries.
Other than reporting it, hardly any institution today is intervening; perhaps, out of fear from Islamic retaliation, or for lack of interest in anything religious.
In the 2018 World Watch List from Open Doors, “3066 Christians were reported killed, 1252 were abducted, 1020 were raped or sexually harassed and 793 churches were attacked.”[i]
According to Rupert Short (Christianophobia: A Faith Under Attack), “During the 20th century, more Christians faced martyrdom for their faith than during all the preceding 19 centuries put together. 200 million Christians are socially disadvantaged, harassed or actively oppressed for their beliefs,” wrote Short[ii].
“Christianity is facing elimination in its Biblical homeland. Between a half and two-thirds of Christians in the Middle East have departed or been killed in the past century. In 1990, there were over 1.2 million Christians in Iraq but by the end of 2003, there were fewer than 500,000; in 2013, there are fewer than 200,000 Iraqi Christians.
The hour is coming when everyone who kills you will think he is offering worship to God (Jn 16:2). We pray for new Pentecost to reverse again the flight in fright to fright in faith. VSS
[i] https://factsandtrends.net/2018/01/29/quarter–billion-christians-face-major-persecution-2018/ accessed 8/11/2019 7:20pm.
[ii] Rupert Short, Christianophobia: A Faith Under Attack, (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans Publishing, 2012).
Picture credit: Pakistani Christians protest persecution. Photo from Our Sunday Visitor newspaper, 6 Oct 2013.