Aleteia logoAleteia logo
Aleteia
Sunday 16 May |
Saint of the Day: St. Simon Stock
home iconChurch
line break icon

Brother of 2 martyrs shows how to counter violence

IBRAHIM EZZAT / AFP

Fr. Patrick Briscoe, OP - published on 08/27/20

We must resist conformity to the age if we are to be authentic Christians.

Do not conform yourselves to this agebut be transformed by the renewal of your mind,that you may discern what is the will of God,what is good and pleasing and perfect. – Romans 12:2

We may be inclined to believe that the age of martyrdom is an age of the past. When we think of Christian martyrs, we are likely to conjure images of the persecutions that took place in the 1st and 2nd centuries. During the reign of the Roman emperor Decius, for example, an 18-month, empire-wide campaign led to the slaughter of some 3,000 to 3,500 Christians in the year 250 (as estimated by the English ecclesiastical historian WHC Frend).

And yet the truth is perhaps more difficult to bear, for the 20th and 21st centuries have produced more Christian martyrs than any other time in the history of our great faith.

How should we respond? What should we do in the face of such evil? We must answer as the saints have always answered. We must counter violence and terror with love and forgiveness. It is our way.




Read more:
“There are many … there are many,” Pope recalls those persecuted for their faith

We have seen in recent years incredible expressions of mercy and absolution. Look, for example, to Beshir Kamel, the brother of two of the 21 Coptic Christians beheaded by ISIS in 2015. Shortly after his brothers’ murder, he appeared on television and said,

Since the Roman era, Christians have been martyred and have learned to handle everything that comes our way. This only makes us stronger in our faith because the Bible told us to love our enemies and bless those who curse us.

This is the Gospel: unmistakably so. Only the grace of Christ could transform a man, not only to say such a thing at such a time, but to mean it.

A perennial temptation for Christians is to be conformed to the age. It’s very easy to slowly adopt this or that aspect of the culture around us, without considering the implication that this or that practice has on our faith. Just as our forefathers and saintly mothers refused to offer incense to Roman gods or died protecting their chastity, there are things today for which we should be willing to die rather than collaborate. We must resist conformity to the age.

Such resistance may seem futile or lonely. We might long for a past age when we think things may have been easier. For his part St. Augustine of Hippo (d. 430) strongly condemns such dissolution. He writes,

Is there any affliction now endured by mankind that was not endured by our fathers before us? What sufferings of ours even bear comparison with what we know of their sufferings? And yet you hear people complaining about this present day and age because things were so much better in former times. I wonder what would happen if they could be taken back to the days of their ancestors -– would we not still hear them complaining? You may think past ages were good, but it is only because you are not living in them.

Even when Jesus, our Lord and God, walked the earth, people turned away from him. Even then there were those who could not understand the mystery of the Eucharist, the need for Jesus to die to redeem us, or the teaching that disciples must deny themselves and take up the cross as Christ did.

The persecuted Christian is the one who continues to announce the Gospel of Jesus with joy and candor, despite hardship. When the world sneers or turns away, the Christian response is compassion and perseverance. The grace of Jesus gives us the resolve to cling to the truth of the Lord’s teaching.




Read more:
Christ calls us to a ‘difficult logic’: Pope says we need to pray blessings on our enemies today

To continue to cling to the Gospel, we must be renewed. We must study the Holy Scriptures. We must read the stories of saints. We must form groups for theological thinking and discussion. We must build friendships where conversations can be had about the deepest, dearest things. We must imitate the creativity of our forebears so that we can be the salt of the earth and light for the world.

When the television host interviewing Beshir Kamel gave him the opportunity to pray for his brothers’ killers, Kamel prayed, “Dear God, please open their eyes to be saved and to quit their ignorance and the wrong teachings they were taught.”

May the Lord Jesusthe Way, the Truth, and the Life—transform the world by the renewal of minds.


BENJAMIN FERENCZ

Read more:
How could ordinary men be capable of such evil? The last Nazi prosecutor has the answer

Tags:
Sunday Readings
Support Aleteia!

If you’re reading this article, it’s thanks to the generosity of people like you, who have made Aleteia possible.

Here are some numbers:

  • 20 million users around the world read Aleteia.org every month
  • Aleteia is published every day in seven languages: English, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, and Slovenian
  • Each month, readers view more than 50 million pages
  • Nearly 4 million people follow Aleteia on social media
  • Each month, we publish 2,450 articles and around 40 videos
  • We have 60 full time staff and approximately 400 collaborators (writers, translators, photographers, etc.)

As you can imagine, these numbers represent a lot of work. We need you.

Support Aleteia with as little as $1. It only takes a minute. Thank you!

Daily prayer
And today we celebrate...




Top 10
1
ascension AND ASSUMPTION
Philip Kosloski
Ascension vs. assumption: What is the difference?
2
SAINT MATTHIAS
Philip Kosloski
Why Matthias was chosen to replace Judas as an apostle
3
Eric Clapton, Luciano Pavarotti, East London Gospel Choir
J-P Mauro
Hear Clapton and Pavarotti sing a prayer to the “Holy Mothe...
4
BENOIT JOSEPH LABRE
Larry Peterson
Benedict XVI called him “one of the most unusual saintsR...
5
Philip Kosloski
What was the message of Our Lady of Fatima?
6
PHILIPPINES CHURCH
J-P Mauro
We need better church music, say Catholics in the Philippines
7
I.Media for Aleteia
These 30 shrines will lead the Rosary Relay for end of the pandem...
See More
Newsletter
Get Aleteia delivered to your inbox. Subscribe here.