PLEASE NOTE: I am NOT claiming that this is the situation for all Christians. What I am saying is that there is a growth in the number of such incidents within Europe and now beginning in North America.
Pope B16 recently said that Christians were the single most persecuted group in the world these days. Given the slaughter that has been occurring in the Middle East, Asia and Africa at the hands of Muslim extremists and the intimidation proffered believers in Europe, it would seem that he stands on solid ground with this assertion. JPII called the 20th century the century of martyrs. B16 is right to point out that the beginning of the 21st has not seen any improvement - if anything, the times are worse now than even a few years ago.
|"Father, forgive them"|
Should Christians be worried? Should we be surprised at this ominous trend? If we believe the Bible, the answer is clearly 'no' to both.
Christ said that we would be tormented, tortured and killed for believing that he is the Messiah. This was the experience of the nascent Church. We should not expect to be spared the same fate. Even though salvation has been won for us and Christ rules in heaven, the power of the Satan still felt on earth. Believers need to remember this truth. Satan is still an angel of light, capable of deceiving and detouring believers from the path Jesus calls us to walk.
This weekend we will listen to the Beatitudes proclaimed in the gospel at Sunday mass. It is then we will hear again the voice of Christ telling us that we will be 'blessed' if we suffer for the faith. We are reminded that if we remain humble in spirit, true in heart and faithful to the Christian message that we will reign with Christ when he returns in glory to finish the war with Satan. Let us remember to pray each day for the faith and courage we need to remain faithful through whatever trials lay ahead of us.
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