ISIS recently beheaded 21 Coptic Christians in Libya and declared war against People of the Cross. Against all that hatred and anger, Pope Francis continues to call for peace, mercy and compassion. In the blood of these modern-day martyrs, Christians have found the unity that has long eluded them. When Christians are persecuted in the Middle East, they are not asked it they are Catholics, or Orthodox, or Lutherans, or Anglicans. They are persecuted because they are Christians, yes People of the Cross.
The Philippines is struggling with its own Muslim problem in Mindanao. After the massacre of the 44 SAF soldiers, there is a lot of anger and calls for vengeance and retribution. But there are many true Christians calling for peace, love, and forgiveness in the midst of all the hateful emotions.
Lent is a time for a deep soul-searching. How seriously do we take our being Christians, being People of the Cross? The Cross is not a weapon with which to conquer others; rather, it is the symbol of a humble and humiliating submission to another person’s will. The cross is death and Christ has challenged us to take up our cross daily. The cross means following the commandment of love even when other have only hatred and anger in their hearts. It means being willing to give up my life for others. It is in being too preoccupied with my own life that I eventually lose it.
There is a great temptation to interpret these words as mere metaphors or analogies. But what if Christ had meant them literally? If someone threatened me with the cross, with death, would I still confess Christ as my Lord? If everything I own and everything that give me comfort were taken away, would I still pray in love and gratitude?