PERSECUTION OF CHRISTIANS IN THE MIDDLE EAST AUGUST 3, 2014. EIGHTEENTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
Don’t send the people away hungry. Give them some food yourselves. But we only have five loaves of bread and two small fish. There are over 5000 people out there. Still Jesus said: “don’t send them away. Feed them yourselves. How do you feed over 5000 people with limited resources? Jesus showed them how to do it. When you believe in the invisible you can do the impossible. That’s what our faith is about.
The miracle of the loaves and fishes still inspires generations of Christian sisters, brothers, priests and lay people all over the world, to respond boldly to the needs of men, women and children.
There are nuns of every imaginable order who bring their savior to those who need saving and caring. They work miracles with meager resources and with whatever assistance they can get. They empower those who have no voice and no hope. What keeps them going is their faith in their vocation and in their god and in the people that they work so hard to love and serve. They live lives of humble service throughout the world today.
They are convinced that she who believes in the invisible can do the impossible.
There are thousands of religious sisters, brothers priests and lay people who are the true faces of compassion for the souls who suffer from religious bigotry and persecution. They minister throughout the world against great odds and at great personal danger in order to proclaim the prince of peace to a weary and jaded world.
When we speak of martyrs today we think about the early Christian martyrs in the catacombs of Rome and the streets of Jerusalem. We think about the Christian martyrs in the Mexican revolution or the tortured Christians in the death camps of Auschwitz and the soviet gulag.
The reality is that there are now, in this age a staggering 150,000 martyrs every year. That means 17 deaths every hour—people put to death for their belief in Jesus Christ and the holy sacrifice of the mass.
Why is there not a groundswell of moral and political outrage about this global war on Christians? I thought that our country was founded on Judeo-Christian teaching.
Christians in the Middle East are being slaughtered, tortured, raped, kidnapped, beheaded, and forced to flee the birthplace of Christianity. One would think this horror might be consuming the pulpits and pews of American churches, protestant and Catholic. Not so. The silence has been nearly deafening. (9/27/13 World News)
Today there are more than 10 million Christians in the Middle East and they make up an estimated 4% of the Middle East's population. A century ago they made up an estimated 20%. Most of them are gone.
Prince Charles of Britain last (December 2013) met with representatives of Mideast Christians in London to draw attention to the ongoing persecution. He said:
“It seems to me that we cannot ignore the fact that Christians in the Middle East are, increasingly, being deliberately targeted by fundamentalist Islamist militants.” Noting Christianity’s roots in the region, the prince observed that today the Middle East and has the lowest concentration of Christians in the world—just 4 percent—and that this has “dropped dramatically over the last century and is falling still further.” He said that the effect of this was that “We all lose something immensely and irreplaceably precious when such a rich tradition dating back 2,000 years begins to disappear.”
In august 2004 … five churches were bombed in Baghdad and Mosul. On a single day in July 2009, seven churches were bombed in Baghdad … the archbishop of Mosul, was kidnapped and killed. In early 2008 a bus convoy of Christian students were violently assaulted. Christians … have been raped, tortured, kidnapped, beheaded, and evicted from their homes.
Recently. Two nuns, members of the Chaldean daughters of Mary religious order that ran the orphanage in Mosul, Iraq, had returned to inspect conditions there two weeks after the terrorists overran and seized control of the locality. According to a report in the tablet, the sisters were abducted along with three other women. They have not been heard from since July 1st 2014.
Four months ago in April the Dutch Jesuit priest, Frans Van Der Lugt who spent 50 years of his life in Syria was murdered in a hate crime.
Recently, militants occupied Mosul’s Chaldean catholic and Syria orthodox cathedrals, removed the crosses at the front of the buildings and replaced them with the Islamic state's black flag. The militants desecrated tombs and other places of worship.
The militants in Mosul also burned to the ground the Syria bishop’s residence, office, and library.
On July 20 2014 ISIS, Islamic state of Iraq and Syria, took possession of an 1800 year old Syrian catholic monastery outside of Mosul.
The patriarch of the Catholic Church in Iraq said that as late as the end of June 2014, 35,000 Christians had lived in Mosul. But now, "for the first time in the history of Iraq, Mosul is empty of Christians." since the seizure of Mosul in Iraq, more than 10,000 people have fled, turning it into a ghost town.
As the Christians leave Mosul, ISIS, the Islamic state of Iraq and Syria, painted the Arabic word “nasrani,” from Nazarene, on their homes. Next to the letters, in black, are the words: property of the Islamic state of Iraq.”
Last week ISIS, the Islamic state of Iraq and Syria, ordered all Christians to either convert to Islam, pay a religious tax, or face execution, many chose another option: flight.
"By 12 noon on Saturday (July 19, 2014), the Christians -- all of them -- left the city" (yousef)
Those who fled their homes with whatever possessions they could carry were then stripped of everything they owned by the militants at the city's checkpoints. Militants took people's belongings, money, personal items "even their cars, leaving them with nothing and forcing them to walk miles under the sun to get to the first Christian villages outside the city wherever they were welcomed." (SIR Italian news agency)
The plight of Iraqi and Syrian Christians cannot be ignored. If the Christian church remains silent, who will speak out on their behalf? The barbaric efforts by radical Muslims to wreak havoc on Christians who do not convert to Islam — has precipitated little more than a feeble protest, among believers in the west. Where is our faith? Where is our courage? Where is our soul?
What should be our response to the disappearance of Christianity in the Middle East?
Today I am talking about the disappearance of the Christian faith in the Middle East so that as members of the body of Christ we will send serious and compassionate prayers to god to strengthen the faith, courage and perseverance of the persecuted Christians. Pope Francis said to the oppressors "please stop, I ask you with all my heart, it's time to stop. Stop, please."
Today I am talking about the disappearance of the Christian faith in the Middle East with the hope that as American citizens in a democratic society we might be moved to remind our representatives in Washington D.C. that we have poured money and blood into the Middle East only to find out that religious liberty has all but disappeared in that part of the world. This should be a concern to us because we are a free people who want with all our hearts to help other people to be free.
I am talking about the disappearance of the Christian faith in the Middle East with the hope that we will wake up to the possibility of the disappearance of the faith in our own families,parishes and neighborhoods. Whenever we take a gift of god for granted we risk losing that gift. I’m talking about the gift of faith and freedom.
God gave us 168 hours in the week. He asks us for one hour to remember that he is the lord of life, faith and freedom.
Today, as we speak there are baptized and confirmed Catholics aimlessly walking the mall who don’t have one hour to worship the god who gave them life, health, faith and freedom. There are young boys and girls running after all sorts of trivial pursuits and they do not have one hour to worship the god who gave them life, health, faith and freedom.
Whenever we take a gift of god for granted we risk losing that gift.